Green slime power

A company in Colorado has developed a technology to grow special algae – which look like green slime – and turn them into biofuels

with a much higher land utilisation and efficiency than can be achieved by extracting oils from the seeds of conventional green plants.

Solix Biofuels says that it is a direct intellectual descendant of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program started in 1978 to explore ways to produce biodiesel from algae, which concluded in 1996 at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado.

Since then, breakthroughs have been made in finding the right algae and cultivating them. The company says that their algae production facilities are closed and do not require soil for growth, use 99% less water than conventional agriculture, and can be located on non-agricultural land far from water. Since their whole organisms convert sunlight into oil, they claim they can produce more oil in an area the size of a typical US garage than an entire football field of soya beans. Green algae thrive on a high concentration of carbon dioxide and can take up nitrogen dioxide, a common pollutant from power plants, as a nutrient. The algae production facilities can thus be fed exhaust gases from fossil fuel power plants and breweries, to increase productivity and clean up the air at the same time.

For more information:

Tom Shelley

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