GM Inside News Forum banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,653 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After 30 years, algae-to-fuel finally gets the green light

Within just two years, Americans could be filling their cars with clean-burning biodiesel made from algae.

That’s the ambitious assessment of Harrison Dillon, co-founder of synthetic biology company Solazyme, who believes the transition could move even faster if oil prices continue to climb north of $100 a gallon.

Solazyme is one of the leaders in the rapidly blooming algae-oil industry, and has recently entered talks with Chevron about distributing its fuel, Soladiesel. Other front-runners include Shell, working with HR Biopetroleum, Global Green Solutions, Valcent Products and International Energy.
...
Last December, Royal Dutch Shell announced a collaboration with HR Biopetroleum, a tiny government-funded start-up on the Hawaiian island of Kona. The oil giant has formed a new company called Cellana, which will grow algae on a 100,000-hectare site using seawater ponds and sunlight. Shell has refused to comment on how much it has invested in the project.

Other companies are shifting away from ponds because of the problems of water evaporation and the risk of contamination by other algae species blown in with the wind. However, if algae is grown indoors using electric light, the power used could negate the CO2 sequestered by the plants.

The Vertigro Bio Reactor System has been designed to avoid both problems. Algae is grown within plastic bubbles hanging from racks in a greenhouse. Vertigro is a joint venture by and Global Green Solutions, a giant with offices in El Paso, Vancouver, London, Brussels and Johannesburg, and Valcent Products of Texas. During a 90-day continual production test, algae was being harvested at an average of one gram (dry weight) per liter, which the company estimates would equate to 33,000 gallons of algae oil per acre per year. Such an output is a third more than a pond system could produce, the team estimates.

Vertigro grows algae vertically, which increases output.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,775 Posts
I've heard about this and i like it..sounds promising even though diesel engines can run on just about anything.

Another one i like is the switchblade grass or w/e into ethanol..its a LOT more efficient and yields more ethanol per acre...and it wont increase the price of corn, which increases the price of everything corn/corn syrup related.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,653 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
So this process nets 1/3 more yield, but it uses electricity from indoor lighting?
The article discusses a couple of different processes. The Solazyme process does not use indoor lighting. Algae only need light in order to make sugar (which -- like humans -- it then converts into fat/oil). Solazyme feeds sugar directly to the algae so that the algae do not have to make it. Therefore, there is no need for any kind of light. The algae are grown in dark tanks.

Also, the Vertigro system pictured uses sunlight, as you can see in the picture.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,455 Posts
The good thing about all these start-ups is that they can all be localized. There is no need for a central refinery in say Newark or Wilmington or Corpus Christie. Every town and city and municipality can have it's own production facility possibly in conjunction with a waste water treatment facility. The problem of distribution is solved. The possible benefit of income generation for a municpality would solve a lot of problems of NIMBY. 'Oh BTW this new plant in our town will allow us to lower your fuel bills and lower your property taxes.' DING!!

The fact that it can be produced underground allows for year-round production in Maine, Minn, N & S Dakota, etc. In addition, places like Colorado with limited pastureland can produce for its citizenry deep in the mountains. RAnchers and farmers in Montana and Iowa can 'double dip'. Grow corn and cattle above ground, grow algae below ground.

Methinks that there is a ton of money to be made by anyone willing to take the first step.

OTOH the widely diverse nature of the various processes works against the centralization of the big oil companies. How do you control things when 150,000 individuals and villages/towns are making their own fuel. Then there are innovative companies such as Google, GE, GM, etc who could make their own fuel for their own use and that of their employees.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,770 Posts
In 3-5 years there are going to either be a ton of companies selling a significant amount of biofuels...or the ruins of a biofuel bubble burst. Its just too early to tell.
Fortunately for us, we're not in a biofuel bubble yet. Not even close. Once the full scale cellulosic plants show a profit margin - ANY PROFIT MARGIN - it will be a full fledged free for all, and the bubble will begin. And the end of such a bubble would not be an end to the biofuel market, rather the end of the bubble would merely consolidation. Biofuels are here to stay.

The secnd half of such a scenario, which is not an "if", rather a "when" scenario, is that the competitors to the product, such as the big oil companies will be forced to play along and get involved. They will not be able to pit gasoline against ethanol, or diesel against biodiesel. They'll have to get in the game too. They will continue to rake in profits on their product for decades to come, but they will not be aboe to shut out the biofuel market. It is out of the oil majors' control to do such anymore. The biofuel rush is far bigger than Exxon, Shell, CP and BP combine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
The article discusses a couple of different processes. The Solazyme process does not use indoor lighting. Algae only need light in order to make sugar (which -- like humans -- it then converts into fat/oil). Solazyme feeds sugar directly to the algae so that the algae do not have to make it. Therefore, there is no need for any kind of light. The algae are grown in dark tanks.

Also, the Vertigro system pictured uses sunlight, as you can see in the picture.
Thanks, I wasn't quite sure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,122 Posts
The good thing about all these start-ups is that they can all be localized. There is no need for a central refinery in say Newark or Wilmington or Corpus Christie. Every town and city and municipality can have it's own production facility possibly in conjunction with a waste water treatment facility. The problem of distribution is solved. The possible benefit of income generation for a municpality would solve a lot of problems of NIMBY. 'Oh BTW this new plant in our town will allow us to lower your fuel bills and lower your property taxes.' DING!!

The fact that it can be produced underground allows for year-round production in Maine, Minn, N & S Dakota, etc. In addition, places like Colorado with limited pastureland can produce for its citizenry deep in the mountains. RAnchers and farmers in Montana and Iowa can 'double dip'. Grow corn and cattle above ground, grow algae below ground.

Methinks that there is a ton of money to be made by anyone willing to take the first step.

OTOH the widely diverse nature of the various processes works against the centralization of the big oil companies. How do you control things when 150,000 individuals and villages/towns are making their own fuel. Then there are innovative companies such as Google, GE, GM, etc who could make their own fuel for their own use and that of their employees.
That....Is an outstanding point...as long as we keep some regulations out there to keep the product consistent

I really want this to work...it proves that unconventional thinking CAN really lead to something amazing
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
So this process nets 1/3 more yield, but it uses electricity from indoor lighting?
Remember we are talking about eliminating our dependance on FOREIGN OIL!!! Our electricity comes from Nuclear Power, Coal, and Hydrogen Power which we have plenty of here in the states!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
197 Posts
I just wish the big oil companies could be left out in the cold. They've made no effort to generate the scientific break throughs that make biofuels possible. But unfortunately they will be needed for their refining and distribution networks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,193 Posts
I just wish the big oil companies could be left out in the cold. They've made no effort to generate the scientific break throughs that make biofuels possible. But unfortunately they will be needed for their refining and distribution networks.
Maybe not. If, as posted by someone else earlier, every major city has it's own production facility we wont need the oil companies crap. But, if we did it wouldn't matter because they would be driven broke anyway and would end up selling there equipment for dirt cheap just to cut their losses.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
687 Posts
Wow, $100 a gallon?? Thats ridiculous! :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,639 Posts
I believe one of the powertrains mentioned as consideration for the Volt does include a diesel generator.
Yes, and the gasoline engine will be a flex fuel engine, which means E85 capability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,636 Posts
Wow, $100 a gallon?? Thats ridiculous! :p
That has to be an error, if it cost that much it will never be able to compete with gasoline no matter how expensive it got. I just wonder how long it will take for this new alternative fuel to get widespread? This fuel sounds great but if it turns out like E85 where only a few states have access it will never displace oil.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,653 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
That has to be an error, if it cost that much it will never be able to compete with gasoline no matter how expensive it got. I just wonder how long it will take for this new alternative fuel to get widespread? This fuel sounds great but if it turns out like E85 where only a few states have access it will never displace oil.
42 states have E85.

Since almost no car is certified to run on pure biodiesel, it will be blended with petroleum diesel just like most ethanol is sold as E10, not E85. It will be a long time before there is enough biodiesel to make all diesel fuel B10.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,636 Posts
42 states have E85.

Since almost no car is certified to run on pure biodiesel, it will be blended with petroleum diesel just like most ethanol is sold as E10, not E85. It will be a long time before there is enough biodiesel to make all diesel fuel B10.
Not a E85 station within 100 miles of me and the 4 that are within 100 miles are in New York. Two of these stations are private. I expect the same of this fuel for awhile. Too bad it can't be done faster.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top