Climate

Video: Pond Scum To The Rescue? A Look Behind Obama’s Support of Algae

If you haven’t already been over to the Climate Desk, check it out. They’ve accumulated some great reporting on climate issues and produced some very slick films on science and clean energy.

The latest film put together by Climate Desk producer James West cuts through the knee jerk political reactions to the President’s support of algae biofuels and asks: “will it ever be the fuel of the future?” In truth, there’s a lot of debate over what impact it will have.

Algae-based biofuels have come down dramatically in cost over the decades, from hundreds of dollars per gallon to between $8 and $30 a gallon. However, companies reaching commercial scale still haven’t inched over the last few yards to achieve cost parity with petroleum-based fuels. Experts don’t expect the resource to play a major role in our fuel mix for another 5-10 years.

But there’s a lot of fascinating research happening the field today, and companies are closer than ever to cracking the code. Even though algae fuels won’t have an immediate impact, this film illustrates why mocking the President for supporting innovative alternatives to petroleum is just silly.

 

7 Responses to Video: Pond Scum To The Rescue? A Look Behind Obama’s Support of Algae

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    It appears that wind and solar, stronger in the present, have a much brighter future. There are limits to efficiencies when you are burning fuel. Thermodynamic simplicity in the form of direct transmission of heat via sun or wind has a better cost upside.

  2. christopher yaun says:

    ExxonMobile? Didn’t EM bring up algae in the commercials they ran on PBS a few years back?

    Chris

  3. Speaker GingGrinch on algae:
    “I mean I think this summer as gas prices keep going up, one of our campaign techniques should be to go to gas stations with jar of algae and say to people would you rather have the Gingrich solution of drilling and having more oil or would you like to try to put this in your gas tank.”

    http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/03/15/newt-gingrichs-algae-investment/

  4. meurig says:

    What’s the EROEI? – last time I did a lit search on algae it wasn’t very good because of fertilisers etc

  5. J4zonian says:

    What actual problem do we have that this solves?

    More important than the EROEI is the net carbon. Hydrogen? oil? I think instead we just have to get used to the idea that we have to stop burning things for fuel.

  6. EdH says:

    An Iowa company, Green Plains Renewable Energy has announced construction of commercial scale algea bio-reactors. It doesn’t sound like they’re interested in conversion to fuel so much at this point but there are other markets like food, feed and pharma.
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bioprocess-algae-and-green-plains-break-ground-on-five-acre-production-facility-in-shenandoah-iowa-2012-02-01

  7. Pangolin says:

    Fill a hundred square miles of bioreactors with single strain algae and watch the stunning speed with which virus and bacterial strains will appear/evolve to exploit these monocultures.

    There is a reason that monocultures are extremely rare in the wild. It’s because they’re easy pickings.