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Could West Texas algae curb oil dependence?
Houston Chronicle ^ | Oct. 7, 2007 | Brett Clanton

Posted on 10/08/2007 11:17:35 AM PDT by According2RecentPollsAirIsGood

ANTHONY — A year ago, this dusty patch of land near the New Mexico border contained little more than dirt and the odd sprig of alfalfa. Today, it is home to a $3 million laboratory that is crackling with activity.

The hi-tech lab was built for a peculiar but possibly revolutionary purpose: to explore ways algae can be used to reduce the world's dependence on oil.

An arid stretch of West Texas might seem like a strange place to study the tiny water-borne plants, but the work is more than just a big idea.

The two companies behind it, El Paso's Valcent Products and Canadian alternative energy firm Global Green Solutions, have developed a system they claim will allow for cheap mass production of algae in just about any corner of the world.

Such a breakthrough, though still untested on a wide scale, could greatly accelerate the expansion of renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol because the oil extracted from algae can be used to make those fuels, said the companies who own the lab through a joint venture called Vertigro.

Today, those fuels are seen as having limited potential to curb oil consumption because they rely on oils from food crops like corn and soybeans, whose prices are rising. But algae could change the equation.

"This market is enormous," said Global Green CEO Doug Frater. "And it's waiting for us."

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


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: algae; biofuels; energy; technology
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Front page of the Chronicle today. Regardless of the various political debates going on right now, the technology right now surrounding biofuels is very interesting and quite exciting in many cases. With the price of oil now, it's also moving ahead at breakneck speed. There's some very cool things going on, and this algae tech is just one of many.

A couple of my favorite quotes from the article:

"Vertigro, however, is not waiting on Uncle Sam to act. The company is about to begin building a pilot plant behind the research lab in Anthony, and company officials say they are in talks with biodiesel producers about licensing their "closed-loop" algae-production system."

"The bags, which are pumped with carbon dioxide and exposed to the sun, help the algae speed along photosynthesis. In this setting, the tiny green organisms can reproduce up to six times every 24 hours.
'That's pretty sexy,' Frater said, in his Scottish accent." =D

Here's a neat video from Valcent's website demonstrating the process.
1 posted on 10/08/2007 11:17:39 AM PDT by According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood

Thats almost as fast as KudZu.
I still think they should investiate Kudzu for bio-diesel.


2 posted on 10/08/2007 11:27:00 AM PDT by golfisnr1 (Democrats are like roaches - hard to get rid of.)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
It's kinda cool that algae grows in Diesel fuel. Now Diesel grows in algae.

In any event, I'm readhy to burn some of this stuff, especially if it's, say, $1.50/gal retail.

3 posted on 10/08/2007 11:27:09 AM PDT by Paladin2 (We don't fix the problem, we fix the blame!)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood; Red Badger

ping.


4 posted on 10/08/2007 11:27:27 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
“About 20,000 bags can be hung in one square acre, yielding 100,000 gallons of algae oil per year, Kertz said. By contrast, one acre of soybeans can produce just 50 gallons of soybean oil a year and one acre of corn yields 29 gallons per year, Vertigro said.’

why does this make me think....

SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!

5 posted on 10/08/2007 11:28:17 AM PDT by dblshot
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
This market is enormous," said Global Green CEO Doug Frater.

The alternatives to crude oil products will cost more unless they are coal.

6 posted on 10/08/2007 11:30:04 AM PDT by RightWhale (50 years later we're still sitting on the ground)
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To: golfisnr1
"investiate Kudzu"

They tried but the research facility was over-taken by the Kudzu and had to be abandoned. /sc off

7 posted on 10/08/2007 11:31:05 AM PDT by Deguello
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood; sully777; vigl; Cagey; Abathar; A. Patriot; B Knotts; ...
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 10/08/2007 11:32:00 AM PDT by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we have consensus.......)
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To: Eaker; Squantos

Sheesh, you Texans... even your pondscum thinks it’s special.


9 posted on 10/08/2007 11:34:43 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Deguello

Not so far fetched after all. ;)


10 posted on 10/08/2007 11:35:27 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: RightWhale

How do you figure?


11 posted on 10/08/2007 11:37:56 AM PDT by Freeport
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To: Freeport

Doesn’t everyone own at least one Diesel powered vehicle?


12 posted on 10/08/2007 11:39:34 AM PDT by Paladin2 (We don't fix the problem, we fix the blame!)
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To: Freeport

Even coal costs twice what it cost a few years ago, but it’s still cheap and plentiful. Gov’t will probably regulate the USA mines out of existence, so even that will have to be imported.


13 posted on 10/08/2007 11:41:16 AM PDT by RightWhale (50 years later we're still sitting on the ground)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
They say that one tenth of the land area of New Mexico could supply the entire US with it's oil needs...let's give them the whole state.

BTW, I've read the 85% of the land in NM is owned by the federal government.

14 posted on 10/08/2007 11:43:37 AM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Spewed coffee all over the keyboard. Howdy and welcome to the State Fair of Texas the biggest and best state fair in the country. The only state fair with a song and a movie about it. Our cows make some great cow ____. Come on down.


15 posted on 10/08/2007 11:44:20 AM PDT by q_an_a
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To: Tijeras_Slim
land near the New Mexico border .........We like to think of it as a septic tank.........;o)
16 posted on 10/08/2007 11:44:22 AM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. )
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To: Deguello
I'd guess we're waiting for a low coefficient of drag, double turbo powered Kudzu combine that could outrun the stuff and harvest it faster than it grows.

Maybe the lab could be located at the Space Station and avoid being overcome with the threat of full vacuum annihilation of any unruly specimens.

17 posted on 10/08/2007 11:44:45 AM PDT by Paladin2 (We don't fix the problem, we fix the blame!)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
Could West Texas algae curb oil dependence? No........
18 posted on 10/08/2007 11:44:53 AM PDT by nuke rocketeer
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To: Deguello; golfisnr1

Kudzu Research Facility

Employee Parking By Lunch Time

19 posted on 10/08/2007 11:50:01 AM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: Paladin2

LOL !


20 posted on 10/08/2007 11:50:21 AM PDT by cinives (On some planets what I do is considered normal.)
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To: dblshot
">
21 posted on 10/08/2007 11:52:41 AM PDT by MrEdd (Ron Paul is Ralph Nader for the right...)
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To: blam
They say that one tenth of the land area of New Mexico could supply the entire US with it's oil needs...let's give them the whole state.

HEY! HEY! HEY!

22 posted on 10/08/2007 11:56:59 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Paladin2

Algae won’t grow in diesel fuel if it is kept dehydrated; it is easily demonstrated using a water glass, a small amount of DF2 and a small amount of water.

When the water is added to the fuel, it simply sinks to the bottom raising the fuel as it floats on the water.

You can easily see the line where they meet and it is at this interface that the algae is allowed to grow.

Once the fuel is being pumped, trace amounts of contamined water and algae are pumped into the filters where they are trapped until they eventually overwhelm the filter and the engine being fed dies of starvation.

Eliminate the water, prevent its entry or dry the fuel with solvents and the problem can be managed.


23 posted on 10/08/2007 12:01:30 PM PDT by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: blam

The Bureau of Land Management administers 264 million acres of public lands,
located primarily in the 12 Western States.


24 posted on 10/08/2007 12:02:23 PM PDT by wolfcreek (The Status Quo Sucks!)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood

The US uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day. There are 42 gallons in a barrel. So that is 840 million gallons per day. That comes out to 306.6 billion gallons per year.

Since one acre yields 100,000 gallons per year of algae oil (which we will presume is equivalent in refined product output to crude oil...which I highly doubt), then we only need 3 million acres to reduce our crude demand to zero.

Since one acre = 0.0015625 square mile, 3,066,00 acres = 4,790.625 square miles. That’s a single square about 69.2 miles per side. And the US is something like 6 million square miles.

So on the face of it, it is not completely ridiculous. But I’m very suspicious of the notion that the energy content of algae oil is equal to that of crude. I also suspect that cultivating algae bags would be quite energy (and water and carbon dioxide and labor) intensive.

Interesting concept though.

jas3


25 posted on 10/08/2007 12:05:42 PM PDT by jas3
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
Research on algae as a potential energy source is nothing new. But it suffered a setback in 1996 when the U.S. Energy Department cut funding for an algae research program that had been in place since 1978, said Al Darzins,... With energy prices so low at the time, the agency doubted algae would ever be able to compete on cost with traditional petroleum sources, he said.

You mean on Al Gore's watch this very promising research was cut back? For shame!

26 posted on 10/08/2007 12:13:59 PM PDT by edsheppa
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To: Uncledave

renewable energy


27 posted on 10/08/2007 12:18:12 PM PDT by MrEdd (Ron Paul is Ralph Nader for the right...)
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To: Carry_Okie

ping


28 posted on 10/08/2007 12:20:53 PM PDT by B4Ranch (( "Freedom is not free, but don't worry the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share." ))
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To: Old Professer

Didn’t know that, thanks for the tip!


29 posted on 10/08/2007 12:23:25 PM PDT by Paladin2 (We don't fix the problem, we fix the blame!)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood; RedStateRocker; Dementon; eraser2005; Calpernia; DTogo; ...
Renewable Energy Ping

Please Freep Mail me if you'd like on/off

30 posted on 10/08/2007 12:24:14 PM PDT by Uncledave
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
I've thought for some time they should consider doing this in the ocean. There's abundant sunlight and "acreage" available out there. It's been shown that algea will bloom in the iron-poor ocean if iron is supplied.

And consider harvesting some other, larger creature that uses algea for food and is genetically modified for enhanced oil content, as it will be cheaper to contain in the "farm." Some efficienies would be lost of course so probably not a good idea to go much higher in the food chain.

31 posted on 10/08/2007 12:29:56 PM PDT by edsheppa
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood

bttt


32 posted on 10/08/2007 12:34:56 PM PDT by southland (Isiah 40:31 Proverbs 22:7)
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To: jas3
But I’m very suspicious of the notion that the energy content of algae oil is equal to that of crude.

Petroleum comes from saltwater algae, coal from freshwater plants. Algae can grow in the open ocean, does not need land, freshwater, or fertilizer. Algae can be optimized to make diesel, alcohol, or emit hydrogen gas. In addition algae can be used absorb pollution.

The leftists are starting to get worried about this, referring to algae as pond scum and algae researchers as low on the food chain. Unlike ethanol this threatens their dreams of an imposed communist lifestyle.

33 posted on 10/08/2007 12:41:43 PM PDT by Reeses (Leftism is powered by the evil force of envy.)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

No brag, just fact.


34 posted on 10/08/2007 12:45:36 PM PDT by dusttoyou (FredHead from the git go)
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To: Old Professer

And/Or add biocide that kills the algae.


35 posted on 10/08/2007 12:52:25 PM PDT by dblshot
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood

I will gladly do my part. They can harvest out of the pond in my front yard and my kids fish tank.


36 posted on 10/08/2007 12:59:05 PM PDT by racnpartsales4u ("His sex organs took the heaviest blow," an unidentified nurse told the newspaper.)
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To: racnpartsales4u

Someone could get rich converting backyard swimming pools into personal biodiesel factories.


37 posted on 10/08/2007 1:10:55 PM PDT by Reeses (Leftism is powered by the evil force of envy.)
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To: dblshot

Better to prevent the entrainment of water for long term effectiveness; barring that, treat and pump out any tank bottoms.

National Chemsearch used to sell a product that would allow for rapid separation after agitation, such as what happens when fresh fuel is dropped in a partial tank, it also contained a basic biocide.

Don’t remember the name or whether they still sell it.

I once was in charge of 19 gensets for a VA hospital with a combined 7.5MW capacity and ordered and controlled all the fuel being used.

We eventually replaced the in-ground tanks and upgraded the system.


38 posted on 10/08/2007 1:24:00 PM PDT by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Paladin2
Maybe the lab could be located at the Space Station and avoid being overcome with the threat of full vacuum annihilation of any unruly specimens

We need Harry Mudd and his tribles. Squish them for the oil and barbecue them over mesquite and wash them down with Shiner Bock Winter Ale! In one fell swoop we have solved the oil problem and world hunger, but we will probably be short on Shiner Beer.

39 posted on 10/08/2007 1:24:22 PM PDT by cpdiii (Roughneck, (Oil Field Trash and Proud of It) Geologist, Pilot, Pharmacist, Iconoclast.)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
IMO the best place to do bio-diesel is in tropical oceans. There's no land to buy, no farmland to lose, plenty of sun, easy temperature control, free agitation, cheap transportation, and water everywhere. If a hurricane comes along, sink it a couple of hundred feet. The processing could be done on delivery ships.
40 posted on 10/08/2007 1:36:45 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (Duncan Hunter for President)
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To: Paladin2

cool stuff. Very credible.


41 posted on 10/08/2007 2:02:06 PM PDT by mbraynard (Tagline changed due to admin request)
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To: Old Professer

On ships seawater seems to get into everthing plus the tank cooling from the sea temp and high humidity create plently of water in the fuel tanks that is well agitated. as fuel oil and water king it was my job to get clean fuel to the propulsion and auxiliary plants. Land based systems are much easier to deal with. I wrote a short story once about a genetically created bug that ate garbage and excreated oil. Worked great until it got out of the tank and ate Brooklyn.


42 posted on 10/08/2007 2:04:04 PM PDT by dblshot
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood
But the biggest benefit: Algae farms can be built virtually anywhere — a point Vertigro hoped to illustrate by locating in West Texas.

How much water will it take to run one of these plants?

43 posted on 10/08/2007 3:19:00 PM PDT by tubebender ( Freeper's Dog Bo ate my Tag Line... Again!)
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To: According2RecentPollsAirIsGood; SouthTexas; WestCoastGal; NYTexan
I can’t wait for the next Casino Video game... TEXAS GREEN TEA!

Invest in the next Texas oil fields now...

44 posted on 10/08/2007 3:22:53 PM PDT by tubebender ( Freeper's Dog Bo ate my Tag Line... Again!)
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To: Red Badger; According2RecentPollsAirIsGood; sully777; vigl; Cagey; Abathar; A. Patriot; B Knotts
How much longer need we live through this mind-numbing hosssheep about alternative fuel sources?

The world is awash in crude oil. If some intelligent awl man in our government who used to be in the awl bidness hisself would get it together to increase our refining capacity, we could all go back to 440 Hemis, the motor God intended to power American vehicles.

I was naive when I voted for GW, I thought an intelligent oil policy would be pretty darn high on a Texan's to do list.

45 posted on 10/08/2007 4:09:34 PM PDT by Zerodown (Draft Petraeus. Let's win this one.)
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To: Reeses
But I’m very suspicious of the notion that the energy content of algae oil is equal to that of crude.

Petroleum comes from saltwater algae, coal from freshwater plants. Algae can grow in the open ocean, does not need land, freshwater, or fertilizer. Algae can be optimized to make diesel, alcohol, or emit hydrogen gas. In addition algae can be used absorb pollution.

The leftists are starting to get worried about this, referring to algae as pond scum and algae researchers as low on the food chain. Unlike ethanol this threatens their dreams of an imposed communist lifestyle.

Petroleum may come from saltwater algae (or it may not), but regardless, I'm betting it takes a lot longer than one year to get a gallon of crude. Thus I would bet the energy content in a gallon of crude far exceeds the projections of the energy content in a gallon of bioengineered algae oil.

Yeah...the lefties are always worried about consumption of energy. From their perspective all consumption is morally evil. And also, they lose their ability to control others as the price of energy falls over time, despite our species using more and more per capital every year.

God I hate the lefites...

jas3
46 posted on 10/08/2007 4:11:17 PM PDT by jas3
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To: RightWhale

For now.

But that situation is bound to change.


47 posted on 10/08/2007 4:37:52 PM PDT by El Sordo
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To: tubebender

A month ago, we had algae growing in the front yard and now, it’s raining again.


48 posted on 10/08/2007 4:54:51 PM PDT by SouthTexas
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To: jas3

I wouldn’t bet on this now, but given another 5-15 years...it could definitely be an option.


49 posted on 10/08/2007 4:55:57 PM PDT by Rick_Michael (The Anti-Federalists failed....so will the Anti-Frederalists)
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To: Uncledave

on, pls....


50 posted on 10/09/2007 8:11:40 AM PDT by gnarledmaw (Thats not a potato, its a bio-battery...)
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