A Spanish company, Bio Fuel Systems, based in Alicante, Spain claims it is on the verge of producing an limitless source of biofuel based on plankton (algae).
BioFuel Systems was formed earlier this year after three years of research by scientists and engineers connected with the University of Alicante. The company has been researching the potential of breeding the tiny sea-borne plants then extracting oil from vat-grown phytoplankton.
They have been able to extract the unrefined oil, but has been unable to refine it into a usable fuel. The plan on being able to refine it within 18 months. Bio Fuel Systems has drawn up industrial plans to make the fuel and says it will be able to start continuous production in 14 to 18 months.
They hope to sell the fuel for $0.25 pear litre, with a sales price of 1 euro with distribution and taxes added in.
its main benefit will be the speed at which the fuel 'crop' can be grown and harvested.
Bernard Stroiazzo-Mougin, president of the company, believes the product is a strong candidate in the race to find a fuel to replace gasoline. "It shares its advantages but not its disadvantages, and the price will be lower," he said.
Mougin also said "the system will produce massive amounts of biopetroleum from phytoplankton, in a limited space and at a very moderate cost." He said that the photo-bioreactor to be produced by his company is not the same as the biofuels being produced by other countries.
While the performance of the plankton oil is expected to be similar to other biofuels with comparable environmental advantages in terms of emissions, the fuel is expected to make significant cuts in CO2 emissions as the plankton absorbs all the CO2 which is released when the fuel is burned, although there will be emissions associated with the production process and transport of the fuel.
It is also expected to have half the emissions of carbon monoxide of petrol and no sulphur emissions
About the only thing I have to say about this is that activity on producing biofuels from algae is heating up and getting some deserved attention. This is the first time I have heard of growing it in vats or having any trouble "refining" it.
Plankton could be key source of biofuel , edie news center, July 24, 2006
Spanish firm claims it can make oil from plankton, Reuters, July 20, 2006
Spain: Scientists Close to Making Biofuel from Algae, TMCnet, August 7, 2006