Algae for energy production

There is a lot of work underway investigating methods of using algae for energy production. Of course, there are a lot of optimistic claims been tossed about.

What is immediately attractive is the fact that unlike corn, algae can be produced in factory like environs out in the middle of the desert where the maximum sun is available. This means that it will not compete in any significant manner with agriculture.

The water component,and even the nutrients can be recycled through a closed loop system. At least in theory. Indications are that the algae is also a maximum efficiency solar energy conversion medium. This means that the per acre production should be at least an order of magnitude greater than traditional agricultural protocols. And early claims suggest that.

Right now there are multiple protocols been tested for exploiting this very promising medium.

The one that I am truly keen about is the conversion of the material into ethanol by fermentation. As usual it is not simple, but I have to believe that it will be much more promising that cellulose conversion.

And the problem we face there is the need for a high volume feedstock capable of supporting an ethanol industry large enough to solve transportation needs. Seed corn cannot do it and cellulose is going to be expensive even if we can improve the process chemistry. To say nothing of competing with other significant agricultural needs.

Using a one hundred percent controlled environment gives us a chance to use our biochemistry expertise and even genetic engineering to maximize effect since the result will not face the natural competition of the biosphere.

We cannot hope to do this with trees and crops easily.

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