Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Algal Industry Grows Incrementally Product by Product

Algal oils cost too much to use as fuels -- for now. But clever algae companies are devising other lucrative markets for their product, at the same time as they are improving the efficiencies and economies of production.
Algae is versatile and its benefits are diverse. Algae oil can be used in pharmaceuticals, plastics and jet fuel, without the environmental impact of petroleum. Algae biomass can replace corn, sugar or other oil-producing feedstock without destroying farmlands or rainforests and without keeping food from the hungry. Algae can also treat wastewater, bringing fresh water and sanitation to millions.

But perhaps most importantly, algae could be a game changer in energy production and deliver clean tech jobs. Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil CEO explains: “Algae will be local. Unlike today’s centralized energy systems, algae will go wherever the CO2 is, and that’s everywhere.” _mnn

Innovative algae producers are experimenting to find the most economical and sustainable approach to growing the green micro-organisms. One clever approach is to incorporate the algae into a combined ecosystem, taking advantage of synergetic organisms to produce a multiple revenue stream.
Brune and colleagues developed a biomass cultivation model for a proposed 50-megawatt natural-gas-fired power plant in Southern California. In the researchers' design, sludge-fed algae would be cultivated in large raceways. Paddle wheels would hasten reproduction by moving the water.

This is where the brine shrimp and tilapia come in. "The brine shrimp eat the algae and convert it into a consistent, high-quality protein and oil," Brune said. The tilapia consume the algae to prevent overproduction, reduce zooplankton and clean up algal waste to provide clean water.

The shrimp are harvested and separated into high-protein feeds and oils. The shrimp waste is collected and fermented in an anaerobic digester.

"If 100 percent of the algal biomass consumed by the shrimp were harvested and fermented, the resulting biomass production could replace 26 percent of the plant's natural gas usage," Brune said.

Another advantage of the system is that carbon dioxide generated by the plant can be fed to the algae. _midwestagnet

Similar schemes are being put into play involving fish instead of shrimp. The most aggressive approaches to growing algae seem to involve the use of high CO2 effluent gases from energy plants. Algae love CO2, and the atmosphere only contains about 0.04% CO2 -- as niggardly an amount of CO2 as any sane person might wish.

Oil producers want to grab as much CO2 from power plants as they can, to inject into deep oil wells for purposes of loosening the oil from the rock -- to increase oil production. And faux environmentalists . . . pardon me while I gasp for breath at their audacity . . . faux environmentalists want to take valuable concentrated CO2 and bury it underground for no purpose whatsoever! Imagine the waste, the idiocy!

Algae grow while you sleep, and while you are awake. Every day, every night, all year long. Whether algal oils will put the petro companies out of business, or whether that task will fall to other forms of microbial fuels, the handwriting of doom for oil is on the wall. It is only a question of time.

Previously posted on Al Fin



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