Will algae fuel the car of tomorrow? Harrison Dillon, CTO of Solazyme is growing strains of algae to produce various kinds of renewable oils. He hopes that over the next few years, people will start consuming algae derived products like gasoline, household cleaners, and makeup without ever realizing it.
Growing the next 'green' fuel
Posting in Technology
Will algae fuel the car of tomorrow? Harrison Dillon, CTO of Solazyme is growing strains of algae to produce various kinds of renewable oils. He ho...
Aug 12, 2009
That is a bit of a tall order to claim organic Talapia and shrimp when they have been raised on the industrial waste of the nearby rum distillery. Though that business provides yours with organic material, those materials are not certified organic feed for your fish and shrimp. Those materials also have a history of considerable toxicity, and no matter how much that waste matter is cleaned up so that it may be fed, I wouldn't put any animal on my platter that had been raised like that. Raising Talapia and shrimp are also notoriously dirty industries. How is your company dealing with the wastes created by them? Also, not every location is so fortunate to have access to organic matter so close by. Plus the open pond system is not sustainable in areas where evaporation is a major concern because water is scarce. Never mind vast stretches of land, or daylight with a high number of sunshine hours, and adequate temperatures of course. So no, I would say your model cannot be replicated throughout the world. For your location it seems ideal though. Why you would raise fish and shrimp that feed on the algae that you are producing for fuel is a bit puzzling though. I wonder why the approach of both of these companies must include organic matter when algae grow so well with sunlight and warmth. To produce one fuel (with fuel to grow, harvest and transport that fuel/food) to fuel another fuel seems counterproductive. Technology is already in place that maximizes sun exposure without requiring additional fuel sources, and also limit water needs by using fully enclosed systems. The positive aspect of switching to algae was that step away from fuels sourced from food crops. Using wastes from food production is an interesting approach, but there are plenty of other uses for it, plus when the bottom line counts, even food waste may not make the cut. Perhaps Solazyme might also want to respond to inquiries that expressed interested in their products for industrial application. Unfortunately repeated email and phone messages last year have remained unanswered...
I believe algae can be an important source of oil which can be used effectively to supplant fossil fuels. The problem lies in companies like Solazyme who use genetically modified algae (for better production, they say, for safer profits, I say), when there is no need to have genetically modified algae. The whole point of having all of these crises (economic, environmental, social, political) is a wake up call. We cannot continue to do business the old way; we cannot continue to have 1% of the population own 50% of the wealth created by multinationals. There is a safer, better way to do business and to live sustainably. Bio-Lipidos de Puerto Rico is an algae aquaculture business that is certified organic, needs no external feed for the algae, and produces, as a by-product, organic Tilapia and Shrimp. Oh! and it consumes the nearby industrial production of CO2 as well. Google Replenish Energy, find out! (their website is just coming online, so be patient if it is not fully functioning yet! Monica Communications Director Bio Lipidos de Puerto Rico
I believe there are many many technologies out there that would have made more efficient use of the oil we have. But the petromafias would have none of it. Any and all attempts to dilute their stranglehold on global power, with alternative energy source, will not see the light of day. Fabulous wealth will win out everytime. First order of the day, destroy the oil cartels. Only we, the consumers, have the might to do that.
AGAIN SAME REPLY AS IN TURNING THE NASA WAY This is what I have been talking about. Some of these scientists have good ideas and intentions, but let's get real. Why do we need some special manufactered plastic container? What about using re-cycled plastics, and even what about harvesting algae that already exists, tons and tons upon tons, in our lakes and oceans. I hate the phase "of course this would take some time". Algae actually grows very fast, and replenishes itself even faster from harvested areas. If algae is already dense then the sunlight that it takes to make it grow faster, does not get to the base of the plant, just like a tree deep in a dense forest that gets no sun. And excuse me Mr. scientist, but could you not make MUCH more methanol from algae than oil? Is not methanol a cleaner, and modern fuel? C'mon America!
Since algae is a plant, I don't understand the concept of using biomass such as sugar cane and cellulose and "feeding it" to the algae to create crude oil. Lynn