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August 31, 2006

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J.C., Sr.

About 20 years ago someone wrote an article claiming plankton would, in the future supply enough protien to feed the whole world. Well we finally found something more useful for it. Maybe we won't turn the heartland of America into a desert to feed our cars afterall.

Cervus

Yes! The more people we have working on this, the faster we'll get it. Nice going.

Ender

Yes but where does the food for the plankton come from??

Ronald Brak

"Where does the food for the plankton come from?"

Well, if the oil produced is simply a hydrocarbon, then photoplankton can get hydrogen from water and the carbon from CO2 from the air which has dissolved in the water. I presume that after the oil has been extracted the non oil part can be returned to the pond as nutrients for the remaining plankton. Of course some nutrients may need to be added to help the planton grow, but hopefully not much.

vrwc

Nice article, I had heard some rumblings on this a few months ago. Open question here, I am considering converting my truck to CNG, there's a thread going on my blog if any of you can help, thanks
(keep up the good work!)

Paul Dietz

That was really skimpy on details. I think one should be skeptical.

Very high biomass yields mean you need to address CO2 availability. How are they getting CO2 into the growth solution? Systems that are tacked onto fossil fuel burning plants trap only a fraction of the emitted CO2, for example, and don't work well when it's cold.

Dedicated photobioreactors are going to be expensive. Sure, yields/area could be high, but the system could and IMO likely would still be uncompetitive due the very high cost/area.

Getting the algae out of the system, drying it, and extracting the fuel are all serious problems.

samu

Hmm... I wonder how viable this is on the larger scale.

Bio-organisms are usually less than 2% efficient in sun-light to stored energy conversion (like phytoplankton).

Also, the article does not state how much external energy sources (beyond sun light) goes into the manufacturing, refining and delivering the bio-plankton-fuel.

If their conversion rate (productivity) is 400 times as big as for other bio-fuels, then the volume might just be big enough.

Now we just need to find out how much energy needs to go into the production, what is the yearly output rate and how much area/BTU they need for production.

Interesting concept, let's hope it becomes viable (in physical, practical and economical terms).

Donb

"Systems that are tacked onto fossil fuel burning plants trap only a fraction of the emitted CO2, for example, and don't work well when it's cold."

Lots of CO2 available at a fossile fuel plant. Even using only a part of it is an improvement. Also, lots of low temperature rejected heat available.

However, like other, I am sceptical about the claimed conversion rate.

Demesure

Growing algua in vat ?
These guys are organizing a big scam to grow money from credulous bureaucrats, aren't they?
Giant spirulin farms in the Californian desert growing high value added protein for human food supplement is hardly a good business. And these guys want to grow algua to make fuel ???

Ronald Brak

In a vat I'd say it's impossible to make money. The capital costs would be just too high. An open air pond on wasteland near the ocean in a warm place would be much cheaper but it would be hard to only grow the strains you want. But harvesting would be easy with a filter.

In terms of energy production I'm sure it would be much more efficent to put up a windturbine or photovoltaic cells. However, at the moment you can sell energy in liquid form for more than 10 times the amount you can sell energy in electrical form, so maybe they can make a buck.

Tro

Do these guys have website? I haven't been able to find one at all. This does sound a little sketchy with the lack of technical details.

Joe McDonald

We are a UK company manufacturing and supplying our patented photo-bio-reactors into the aquaculture, cosmetic, bio-remediation and biofuel sectors. Unlike most other companies out there who promise they can deliver a system or are still developing a system, we can and do actually deliver! Systems are exported globally, run continuously and operate at up to 36 times the density of conventional production systems.

phil

They have a web site:

http://www.biofuel-systems.com/

If you understand spanish, you can watch the reports from the main Spanish TV channel.

bert jan potter van loon

Like all real new developments the world is skeptical, especially when billions of dollars (oil) are concerned; but isn't it time to give these alternatives a thought ?

Zack

Haven't people learned yet to stop saying "limitless energy production?" One would think we had made that mistake enough times, and it only encourages over consumption.

That said, if they could pull it off, I'm all for wide-spread carbon neutral (or nearly so) fuels replacing oil.

bresson fernand

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bresson fernand

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Matthew

Plankton and Phytoplankton grow in the world oceans. Maybe they can find a way to grow this stuff in some of our lakes and ponds. Or maybe it would be possible to section off parts of the Pacific and Atlantic ocean and even the Gulf of Mexico to be used for growing plankton for biofuel. You know those bouyant retaining walls they use to contain an oil spill. Maybe that can be used to create a "corral" where plankton can be grown and made into biofuel on land. If this can be done, possibly all our "liquid fuel" needs could be provided all by the oceans and the land can be used to grow food just for eating.

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