Friday, July 18, 2008

algae biodiesel for $80/barrel or coal alternative?

biodiesel is a superior alternative to bioethanol. it is simpler to produce, transport, and store. and it can be made from all sorts of crazy materials.

and, according to one expert in the field, it will be possible to make it using algae grown in saltwater tanks for about $80/barrel. for comparison, light sweet crude oil has been selling for $130-150/barrel recently.

the only difficult part of the process left to figure out: how to separate the algae from the water cost-effectively without damaging the lipids.

considering that the study is being done in New Mexico (which, as everybody knows, gets most of its electricity from coal plants), i wonder if it wouldn't be more effective to just make sun-dried algae bricks instead and co-fire them in the coal power plants. this would help them meet the new NM Renewable Production Standard of 2% of energy coming from biomass sources by 2011.

so that's what i'd look into: use ozone to kill the algae and reduce their hydrophilia, collect the sludge, and sun dry it into whatever form is convenient for coal plants.

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