Algae that produces Ethanol
Agenol and the Mexican company BioFields have teamed up to grow algae that produces ethanol. However, there is a difference between this method and other methods of creating biofuels from algae. This method allows the algae to continually produce ethanol without having to kill the algae in the extraction pocess.
Several algae companies are trying to enter the biofuels business by drying and pressing the organisms to make vegetable oil that can be processed into biodiesel.
Woods said Algenol will use a process he invented in the 1980s to coax individual algal cells to secrete ethanol. That way, the fuel can be taken directly from the vats where the algae is grown while the organism lives on, using far less energy than drying and pressing the organisms for their oil.
Algenol plans to make 100 million gallons of ethanol, about the average annual capacity of one traditional U.S. distillery, in Mexico’s Sonoran Desert by the end of the 2009. By the end of 2012, it plans to increase that to 1 billion gallons — more than 10 percent of current ethanol capacity in the United States, the world’s top ethanol producer.
If they can reach their estimated production level by 2012, I think many people will start to see algae as having major potential for a sustainable energy source. However, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much about this yet. The article has this little disclaimer later on:
How well the system would work, what kinds and volumes of nutrients would be needed and how much water would be required are unknowns, Steelman said. And gaining market share from politically-established players in the U.S. Midwest and Big Oil could be difficult, he said.
Yea that first line says it all and basically negates all the numbers and dates they have in the previous paragraphs. The process may work in a lab but getting everything up and running always is another thing entirely.