Oil Price Slump Leaves Strong Enthusiasm for Green Slime
Scientific enthusiasm for algae-based biofuel remains strong, despite collapsing oil prices that raise the price-competitive bar.
The U.S. Department of Energy renewed funding this week for a National Renewable Energy Laboratory research program on turning green slime into clean aviation and vehicle fuel, CleanTechnica reports. Two hopeful signs are the identification of a new species of “biofuel-friendly” algae, and a new process for turning algae into commercialized biofuel.
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Scenedesmus, an algae found from Brooklyn to California’s highly saline Salton Sea, performs well on tests for fats, hydrogen, carbohydrate, and hydrocarbon production. Meanwhile, what Casey describes as a new “whole body” process for fermenting a mixed algae slurry, rather than attempting to separate out algal components for further processing, has produced “impressive” increases in gasoline-equivalent ethanol production.
Using Scenedesmus and the new process, Casey writes, “scientists were able to produce a total fuel yield estimated at 126 GGE (gallons/gasoline equivalent) per ton. That’s 88% of the theoretical maximum yield and 32% more than the yield from lipids alone.”