I watched a segment once on using algae as an energy source, basically turning algae into fuel. It was harvested in desert climates and done so vertically, rather than horizontally. Which means it took up less land mass. I note it was interesting at the time, only to think algae? Really?
It seemed far-fetched. Apparantly not as far-fetched as I thought.
Biomass algae culture, called Algaculture, may very well be the best solution to meeting the energy needs of the future while addressing the carbon buildup and global warming at the same time. Algae bacteria are one of the best possible energy sources. Many strains of algae can contain significantly more than fifty percent oil, which can be used to make biodiesel. Algae offer many benefits that other renewable resources do not. Corn and soybeans are widely used in the production of biofuels, but this has many problems and is criticized by many third world countries, because these crops are food crops. Fertile land is needed for these crops, and fertile land is in short supply around the world.
Algae can be grown almost anywhere, even on sewage or salt water, and does not require fertile land or food crops. It is very efficient and can be made cost effective with little effort. Algae is very energy and oil dense, sequesters CO2 permanently while growing, only needs sunlight and water which is not suitable for drinking or farm use, only takes hours to reproduce, has a very high yield per acre used, does not require fertile land or food crops, and is very eco friendly because it is not toxic, does not contain sulfur, and is very biodegradable. This makes it the perfect solution for future energy that does not depend on other countries, fossil fuels, or pollute the earth and cause environmental harm.
Of course, it’s all about oil, which in turn would be turned into biodiesel fuel for cars. The probem with “green energy” (and to be sure the industry isn’t as safe as some would assume) is a classic chicken and egg thing. More than alternative electricity sources, people are starving for alternative automobile fuels, but car companies aren’t building them quick enough. And to further complicate things, the energy sector and automobile industry don’t seem to be working together to bring about the necessary changes.
But algae? Who knew.
Also: A study from Rutgers under Dr. Paul Falkowski and one from the University of New Hampshire about a project in the works to use California Salton Sea microalgal biomass systems for fuel production (pdf).