Saturday, September 1, 2007

Algal Biodiesel: Fact or Fiction?

Microalgae biofuels generally, and algae biodiesel production specifically, is still a long-term R&D goal (likely about 10 years), that will require at least as much funding as the ASP, if not more, and success is, as for any R&D effort, rather uncertain.

...Some near term applications can be considered, in wastewater treatment specifically (but, wait, do not rush to your nearest algae wastewater treatment ponds - there are thousands of these around, but they are mostly very small and their algae have little or no oil, at least the way that we operate those systems at present.

...There are now scores of venture-financed companies, university research groups, government labs, garage start-ups, GFT licensees, web sites, and on and on claiming that they have, can, may and/or will produce algae biodiesel, at low cost, high productivity, soon, etc. None are based on data, experience, reality or even a correct reading of the literature.

...Even if R&D proves successful and we can actually produce algae biofuels (maybe even biodiesel) economically (whatever the economics may be a decade or so from now), even then, I am sorry to say that due to resource (land, water, etc.) limitations, algae will not replace all our (or their) oil wells, cannot solve our entire global warming problem, or make me rich quick, at least not honestly.

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