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Venture Capitalists Want to Put Some Algae in Your Tank
NY Times ^ | March 7, 2007 | CLIFFORD KRAUSS

Posted on 03/07/2007 12:47:12 AM PST by neverdem

NILAND, Calif. — The idea of replacing crude oil with algae may seem like a harebrained way to clean up the planet and bolster national security.

But Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones and her husband, David Jones, are betting their careers and personal fortunes that they can grow masses of the slimy organism and use its natural photosynthesis process to produce a plentiful supply of biofuel.

A few companies are in a race to be first to convert algae to fuel on a commercial scale, and it will require not a small amount of money, luck and biotech tweaking.

“You have a vintage here that you are not sure is going to mature into anything good, and you are putting money into it on the off chance that it might,” Ms. Morgenthaler-Jones, acknowledged during a drive the other day to an algae-filled catfish farm in this secluded desert town.

Like thousands of other pioneer venture capitalists over the last two years or so, these two San Francisco Bay area investors have trolled through the dizzying, complicated world of renewable fuels — from wave power, to hydrogen fuel cells, to lithium batteries, to cow manure for making methane. And just like their predecessors of the dot-com boom a decade ago, they have come up with their very own gamble, started their own company, called LiveFuels Inc., and are now negotiating with other potential venture capital partners.

What is different, though, about Ms. Morgenthaler-Jones and this latest entrepreneurial wave is that the search is for something that both produces profits and offers something good for the environment. One goal, for instance, is to find an energy-efficient way to convert algae into fuel, which is why she was visiting a catfish farm here that was for sale. Farmed catfish could provide a useful source of carbon...

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: algae; energy; opec; power; renewenergy; science

1 posted on 03/07/2007 12:47:15 AM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Capitalist self-interest driving innovation that would benefit all... this must be stopped immediately!


2 posted on 03/07/2007 12:48:34 AM PST by WingBolt
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To: WingBolt
Capitalist self-interest driving innovation that would benefit all... this must be stopped immediately!

Now that the NY Slimes is lampooning that...

3 posted on 03/07/2007 12:53:48 AM PST by 100-Fold_Return (Sell Low--Buy Lower)
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To: neverdem
But Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones and her husband, David Jones, are betting their careers and personal fortunes that they can grow masses of the slimy organism and use its natural photosynthesis process to produce a plentiful supply of biofuel.

The first thing they should do is run all the criminals out of their town. Niland is home to "Slab City" a place where criminals lose themselvse from society. It's also a good place for Mexican drug and aliens smugglers to hire honkeys to drive their alien and drug loads north.

4 posted on 03/07/2007 1:06:34 AM PST by Ajnin (Neca Eos Omnes. Deus Suos Agnoset.)
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To: neverdem
This is probably a very good idea. As I understand it, algae has the highest solar energy conversion factor of any plant, animal, or silicon (but don't quote me that).
5 posted on 03/07/2007 1:33:09 AM PST by NurdlyPeon (Wearing My 'Jammies Proudly)
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To: neverdem
“If the U.S. put 15 million acres of desert into algae production, we could produce enough volume of liquid fuels to get us off the Middle East oil addiction and give Iowa back to the songbirds”

Can you hear the environmentalists screaming?

That about 24,000 square miles, or about the size of WV. Not to mention the infrastructure to support the operation and the workers, which would probably add at least 50% to it.

Also would seem to require a whole lot of water, which is a little scarce in the desert.

6 posted on 03/07/2007 3:19:20 AM PST by Sherman Logan (I didn't claw my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.)
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To: neverdem

I pray they succeed with their venture. On paper it is a very viable idea. Much better than, for instance, ethanol which only offers a net-reduction of oil-consumption by some 10%. Like someone already pointed out, algae is the most efficient solar-power converter out there.


7 posted on 03/07/2007 3:27:52 AM PST by SwedishConservative
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To: sully777; Fierce Allegiance; vigl; Cagey; Abathar; A. Patriot; B Knotts; getsoutalive; ...

Rest In Peace, old friend, your work is finished.......

If you want on or off the DIESEL "KnOcK" LIST just FReepmail me........

This is a fairly HIGH VOLUME ping list on some days......

8 posted on 03/07/2007 4:56:01 AM PST by Red Badger (Britney Spears shaved her head............Well, that's one way of getting rid of headlice.........)
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To: Sherman Logan

My idea is to grow algae in the equatorial oceans and build ships to scoop it up and process it. All I need is the money to get started.


9 posted on 03/07/2007 5:08:15 AM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: neverdem

Good for them! I hope it works.


10 posted on 03/07/2007 5:10:48 AM PST by proud American in Canada ("We can, and we will prevail.")
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To: neverdem

And what about the poor wittle algae's? Isn't it cruel to raise them just for the sake of burning them? Where's PETA in all this? SARC/


11 posted on 03/07/2007 5:31:28 AM PST by showme_the_Glory (No more rhyming, and I mean it! ..Anybody want a peanut.....)
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To: Sherman Logan

The thing about algae is it loves sewage and industrial waste, so the water doesn't have to be drinking water, sludge and slime works just as well. That's the added bonus, we can reduce waste while creating fuel, and the by products of the algae can be dumped back in so that their buddies can feast on their rotting remains also.


12 posted on 03/07/2007 5:40:51 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly catching hell for posting without reading the article since 2004)
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To: neverdem

It's bad enough for guilt that the affluent libs are taking more than their fair share of energy, but when it comes to taking it by using food (e.g., catfish), their guilt will become unbearable!


13 posted on 03/07/2007 7:13:04 AM PST by expatpat
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To: Red Badger

I heard some mention awhile back about an idea for an energy source that Einstein had that was supposedly before it's time. Yall seem pretty smart. Does anyone know what that would be?


14 posted on 03/07/2007 10:36:42 AM PST by moonpie57 (Fred Howell McMurray, Jr. The man on my POW bracelet.)
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
When Irish Genes Are Smiling

Novartis receives U.S. approval for blood pressure drug Tekturna (15) BTW, PubMed yields 40 papers including 11 review articles already.

Atkins Beats Other Diet Plans in Study (32)

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

15 posted on 03/07/2007 10:47:02 AM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: Abathar

Open-air ponds of sewage -- YUMM !

Actually, the most beneficial way to increase algae yields is by CO2 enhancement. There are other companies that are taking that route -- approaching coal-powered electrical plants to utilize adjacent property and feed their smokestack output through algae growths. The ones I saw involved clear plastic tubes lying on the ground where the water and CO2 levels were maintained just right to produce 6x the algae growth of open-air ponds.

This seems like a cheap and effective way to grow algae. Suppose you take cheap plastic tubing about 12 inches in diameter and keep an over-pressure of CO2 and air in it so it stays "inflated" while the algae grows. String it out across the ground and the greenhouse effect of the contained system along with the residual heat of the smokestack CO2 would allow growth anywhere, not just desert sun. Then you just reel in the tubing and squeeze the algae and water out like toothpaste into your processing plant for producing bio-diesel and ethanol, and send the water back into the system with minimal new water needed.


16 posted on 03/07/2007 11:15:03 AM PST by Kellis91789
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Related stuff, as a reprise. Links are probably dead, check the Web Archive.

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that has been genetically modified can produce hydrogen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.
Patent filed on energy discovery
by Kathleen Scalise
A metabolic switch that triggers algae to turn sunlight into large quantities of hydrogen gas, a valuable fuel, is the subject of a new discovery reported for the first time by University of California, Berkeley, scientists and their Colorado colleagues. UC Berkeley plant and microbial biology professor Tasios Melis and postdoctoral associate Liping Zhang of UC Berkeley made the discovery -- funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen Program -- with Dr. Michael Seibert, Dr. Maria Ghirardi and postdoctoral associate Marc Forestier of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. Currently, hydrogen fuel is extracted from natural gas, a non-renewable energy source. The new discovery makes it possible to harness nature's own tool, photosynthesis, to produce the promising alternative fuel from sunlight and water. A joint patent on this new technique for capturing solar energy has been taken out by the two institutions. While current production rates are not high enough to make the process immediately viable commercially, the researchers believe that yields could rise by at least 10 fold with further research, someday making the technique an attractive fuel-producing option. Preliminary rough estimates, for instance, suggest it is conceivable that a single, small commercial pond could produce enough hydrogen gas to meet the weekly fuel needs of a dozen or so automobiles, Melis said.
Abstract Number:1027
by Maria L Ghirardi and Michael Seibert
The hydrogen metabolism of photosynthetic bacteria and cyanobacteria involves the coordinated action of three enzymes: nitrogenase, reversible hydrogenase, and uptake hydrogenase. Green algae, on the other hand, contain only the reversible hydrogenase, which is responsible for both hydrogen production and uptake in this organism. The quantum yield for hydrogenase-catalyzed hydrogen production is much higher than that for nitrogenase. Algal hydrogenases, however, are extremely sensitive to oxygen. For this reason, green algae cannot be utilized commercially for hydrogen production. We have investigated two types of selective pressure to isolate mutants of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that produce hydrogen in the presence of oxygen. The first is based on competition between hydrogenase and metronidazole for electrons from light-reduced ferredoxin. Since reduction of metronidazole results in the release of toxic products that eventually kill the organism, cells with an active oxygen-tolerant hydrogenase will survive a short treatment with the drug in the light in the presence of oxygen. Using this technique, we have isolated a variant of C. reinhardtii that evolves hydrogen with an I50 for oxygen three times higher than the wild type strain. The second selective pressure depends on growth of algal cells under photoreductive conditions. Algal cells must fix carbon dioxide in the presence of oxygen with reductants derived from hydrogen uptake by the reversible hydrogenase. We will describe in detail both selective pressures, as well as the characteristics of the mutants isolated by application of these selective pressures to a population of mutagenized wild type cells. This work was supported by the U.S. DOE Hydrogen Program.
The Department of Energy's Biohydrogen Research Program
by Maria L Ghirardi and Michael Seibert
A recent discovery at ORNL demonstrated that hydrogen production from a green algal Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mutant cannot easily be explained by the Z-scheme, the standard model of photosynthesis. Too much hydrogen was produced to be accounted for by this model. These results may have implications for designing a commercial BioHydrogen organism with improved energetic conversion efficiencies of hydrogen production, especially in the context of the light saturation problem.
Plankton Power
New Scientist
Tiny marine plants and animals can provide limitless power for small electric devices. Plankton in seawater and sediment use different chemical reactions to obtain their energy. This sets up a natural potential difference between the seawater and the sediment a few centimetres beneath. A device called OSCAR (Ocean Sediment Carbon Aerobic Reactor) taps into this tiny voltage. Leonard Tender of the US Naval Research Laboratory believes his system would be ideal for powering oceanographic sensors, whose batteries currently need to be replaced constantly.
All that's needed now is a seawater version of this critter, and we'll have an unnatural plant that can process seawater into hydrogen for fuel, which when burned can provide freshwater. : )
17 posted on 03/07/2007 11:45:15 AM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 19, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: moonpie57
If you mean this:

Physicist to Present New Exact Solution of Einstein's Gravitational Field Equation

It would be tough to apply it to a stationary power plant.

The field equation of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity has never before been solved to calculate the gravitational field of a mass moving close to the speed of light. Felber's research shows that any mass moving faster than 57.7 percent of the speed of light will gravitationally repel other masses lying within a narrow 'antigravity beam' in front of it. The closer a mass gets to the speed of light, the stronger its 'antigravity beam' becomes.

Felber's calculations show how to use the repulsion of a body speeding through space to provide the enormous energy needed to accelerate massive payloads quickly with negligible stress. The new solution of Einstein's field equation shows that the payload would 'fall weightlessly' in an antigravity beam even as it was accelerated close to the speed of light.

18 posted on 03/07/2007 2:47:08 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

I really have no idea. The statement was made in relation to finding a new source of energy that would free the US from dependency on other countries. I didn't understand it, but it had to do with some idea of Einstein's that was ahead of it's time. It's a riddle to me!


19 posted on 03/07/2007 7:39:40 PM PST by moonpie57 (Fred Howell McMurray, Jr. The man on my POW bracelet.)
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To: moonpie57

He was also part of the initial development of nuclear technology. That was "ahead of its time" in 1939.


20 posted on 03/07/2007 7:44:07 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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more about Chlamydomonas reinhardtii:

Pond life: the future of energy
Hydrogen-producing algae breakthrough
By Chris Williams
Published Friday 24th February 2006
The Register
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/02/24/pond_scum_breakthrough/


21 posted on 03/17/2007 12:04:57 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Sunday, March 11, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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