There is a fascinating new breakthrough out of Utah where engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have invented a machine that can convert algae and into crude oil in minutes — skipping the usual millions of years of natural development. The invention could offer a unique and plentiful biofuel.
Genifuel Corp., a biofuels company from Utah, wants to developed the new invention on an industrial scale where a slurry of wet algae is pumped into the front end of a chemical reactor and crude oil comes out the other end within an hour. The process only produces the byproduct of water and material containing phosphorus that can be recycled to grow more algae. It would be interesting if natural algae can be used — allowing for the collection of growing algae blooms that are choking waterways that in turn would produce fuel and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The algae-based product can be conventionally produced into “aviation fuel, gasoline, or diesel fuel.”
Particularly with the recent study on the dangers of fracking, the Utah breakthrough is exciting and seems to offer a real hope for a viable alternative biofuel. Unlike corn with high production costs and collateral pollution, it would seem to offer a small environmental footprint for production.
What do you think?