Thinking Tech

Algae could be jet fuel of the future

Posting in Energy

Airbus in May, 2008 joined forces with Honeywell on an ambitious project that aims to generate a third of aviation's fuel from biomass by 2030. by John Dodge

I caught the two SmartPlanet videos below about how algae can produce oils when they are fed biomass such as sugar cane and cellulose. You might be surprised that two of algae's biggest proponents are Boeing and Airbus. Think about it: no oil, no jet airplanes given no one has figured how to propel them any other way.

In a 2007 report, Boeing claimed it there is potential to extract 10,000 gallons of biofuel per acre of algae a year. That equates to 85 billion gallons of bio-jet a year if a landmass the size of the State of Maryland were cultivated. Airbus in May, 2008 joined forces with Honeywell on an ambitious project that aims to generate a third of aviation's fuel from biomass by 2030.

The two videos present different approaches about how to grow algae and might help you decide if algae is a major fuel feedstock of the future. I wrote an overview algae and biofuels last October that outlines its potential, but as you can imagine, it has skeptics, too. In Feb., 2008, Virgin Atlantic launched the first commercial flight partially powered by biofuels, but many saw it as a stunt. Thing is Virgin Atlantic President Sir Richard Branson has proven the doubters wrong on many occassions.

Algae: it's not just pond scum anymore!

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure