Friday, June 19, 2009

Diatomaceous Oils Make a Move

Brian Wang and GreenCarCongress recently looked at research into the use of diatoms to produce biofuels -- specifically diesel - like oils.
Scientists in Canada and India are proposing a variety of ways of harvesting oil from diatoms—single cell algae with silica shells—using biochemical engineering and also a new solar panel approach that utilizes genomically modifiable aspects of diatom biology, offering the prospect of “milking” diatoms for sustainable energy by altering them to actively secrete oil products. Their communication appears online in the current issue of the ACS’ bi-monthly journal Industrial Engineering & Chemical Research.

Richard Gordon, T. V. Ramachandra, Durga Madhab Mahapatra, and Karthick B note that some geologists believe that much of the world’s crude oil originated in diatoms, which produce an oily substance in their bodies. Barely one-third of a strand of hair in diameter, diatoms flourish in enormous numbers in oceans and other water sources. They die, drift to the seafloor, and deposit their shells and oil into the sediments. Estimates suggest that live diatoms could make 10-200 times as much oil per acre of cultivated area compared to oil seeds, Gordon says. _GCC
It looks as if oil yields from diatoms are comparable to algal oil production per acre. This means that research and development into diatomaceous oils will be in competition with R & D into algal oils. The only way to do justice to both areas of research is to slash funding for climate catastrophe orthodoxies in government, academia, industry, and the media -- and apply those resources to development of high yield biofuels.

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