Skip to comments.Pond scum to the rescue?
Posted on 07/05/2008 7:54:19 AM PDT by ovrtaxt
Remember the optimist's creed, "If life gives you lemons, make them into lemonade"?
Well, ConocoPhillips and the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels are trying to do one better in a new, $5 million research partnership:
"If life gives you pond scum, turn it into alternative fuels. And while you're at it, fight global warming."
OK, trying to cram two good ideas into one slogan may make it too long for bumper stickers. But it is a classic example of the creative thinking that promises to reshape Colorado's future while creating jobs in the new energy economy.
Making fuels from pond scum isn't a new idea. Nature thought of it millions of years ago when it covered layers of algae and other organic matter with millions of tons of rock to produce today's deposits of oil and natural gas. But soaring energy prices have encouraged researchers to speed up that natural process.
Algae is very efficient at converting sunlight into oil, so much so that researchers say algae can produce more oil in an area the size of a two-car garage than an entire acre of soybeans. Best of all, in water-short regions like Colorado, algae fuels don't compete for scarce fresh water resources but can use seawater or wastewater to make biodiesel, biogasoline and other biofuels.
That means algae can be grown in areas where human food can't be grown, according to Al Weimer, executive director of the center. And how's this for a kicker: carbon dioxide from power-plant emissions can be used as a feedstock for the algae.
So instead of spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from a coal or natural-gas fired power plant, we can recycle that greenhouse gas into algae-based fuels for cars and trucks — fighting global warming and the OPEC oil cartel at one stroke.
Maybe it's time to stop using "pond scum" as an insult and start using it to save our wallets and our planet.
Renewable Energy ping!
More info here:
If there is an upside to high energy prices it is that the ingenuity of the American people gets put on display.
The thought of Arab oil billionaires being usurped by algae makes my heart proud.
I think biodiesel from algae is the most promising renewable transportation fuel, by far.
oh, nevermind I thought this was an article about how bill clinton was going to help obama win the election
I have a friend who’s thinking about acquiring a biodiesel plant- his investors were talking about importing soybeans from Argentina. Dumb dumb dumb.
I turned them on to Valcent’s system, I hope they go for it.
Agreed. Biodiesel from soybeans is far too low-yield.
Yes. Good idea, worth pursuing.
BUT. It will never amount to more than about 1% of our energy needs at best. The left wing press will continue to use ideas like this to block the serious measures we need to take to deal with the other 99% of our needs: drill, refine here in this country, dig coal, and build nuclear plants by the bushel.
Pond scum? Sure. Maybe it will fuel as many as a hundred cars in the whole state.
That’s not accurate. Granted, there are still some obstacles, but algae-derived biodiesel is the one renewable fuel idea that actually could replace all our transportation fuel, due to its high yield.
That said, we do need to develop our oil, coal and nuclear as well.
DRILL HERE ... DRILL NOW!
Can they come take it out of my pool?
It would be nice if they tore up those bike trails and put some high speed trains on them, maybe Chicago to NY, Cleveland to Columbus. etc.
Yes, we need to drill NOW!! And build Nuke power plants too!
But we need to find another means of providing power for transportation too. Pond scum may or may not be the answer, but it is an idea, and means people are thinking. Americans are the most inventive people in the world and we WILL find a way. And who knows, that farm pond in my back yard may provide enough fuel to power my Explorer!!
Actually, algae produces A LOT of oil. Way more than corn, soybeans, switchgrass, or any other biological source.
Go to the Valcent link in post 3 and watch the short video on the Vertigro system, the guy gives some staggering stats.
Having said that, yes drill like crazy, build refineries and nuke plants, and issue tax credits for investment into new energies- solar, wind, geothermal, hydro. etc etc. Throw it all out there and let the market work.
we use close to 100 billion of barrels a day so the biofuel math is fishy
Well, naturally the developers are talking it up, and maybe there’s some truth in it, although collecting all that algae and transporting it to a refinery may be harder than one would think.
I thought that 1% of our energy needs was a high figure. But even if it proves to be 2 or 3%, we still need to drill and build nuclear plants if we want to solve our problems and stop exporting billions of dollars for our enemies to use against us.
Also, we should not have to rely on foreign refineries and pay them to do work we should be doing here.
Didn't know they had seawater in Colorado...
I agree that we should let our entrepreneurs loose to follow any leads they can think of. We just should not let the leftist media persuade us that this will solve our problems in the foreseeable future.
All these things are good, but they are still marginal.
I’ve bought a wood burning stove and built a wood shed, and I’m getting a pellet burning fireplace insert, because I don’t want to pay any more for high-priced fuel oil than I have to. But I’d rather have cheap, convenient nuclear power. It would be a lot easier, and it could have been much cheaper—if the whackos hadn’t been blocking it for decades.
We should be doing whatever works best, not whatever is politically correct.
You need to research that website a little more. They have a prototype manufacturing plant that actually grows the algae in plastic tubing vertically in greenhouses. They grow and manufacture the algae and extract the oil in one process.
There's an excellent video on the site that shows and explains the process.
Finally! A truly wonderful use for democrats.
In reality, methinks the corn and soybean lobbies aren’t going to take to being scummed. So to speak.
In the U.S., we consume about 180 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline. If we shifted all that to biodiesel (over a period of years, obviously), we could produce the necessary fuel from algae on about 10 million acres.
What they do is to Drill to the salt water layer and there you go. Ignore any shale deposits and any oil.
Three cheers! I’ve been hoping that somebody would do just this, because it has the promise of everything good about alternative fuels and none of the drawbacks.
The algae is as much as 50% vegetable oil, readily converted to biodiesel with the addition of ethanol and a catalyst. With little modification it can run in an ordinary diesel engine.
And when you pump waste CO2 and Nitrous Oxides (NOx) through it, algae grows extremely fast. Otherwise, recycled effluent or even salt water and sunlight is about all that is needed.
Unlike using plants like corn, which is terribly wasteful and stupid, algae grows almost year around, south of the Mason-Dixon line, and even in cold, pale Massachusetts sunlight, with these waste gases, it grows very well.
It doesn’t need to be on farmland, and is relatively scalable, so once the technology is perfected, even farms can use algae to make both the diesel fuel they use and animal fodder with what is left over.
And diesel engines themselves are very efficient and are scalable, from cars and trucks, to trains and ships. One heck of a lot better than using stupid hybrid or ethanol vehicles.
Biodiesel mixes well with petroleum diesel. At 20%, it can be used in an unmodified engine. And if you use 99% biodiesel with 1% petroleum diesel, the petroleum diesel keeps unwanted bacteria from spoiling your biodiesel.
Diesel cars are very powerful, accelerate quickly, and are just as good or better than gasoline cars. So to hell with driving sucky little matchbox cars just to make liberal wimps happy. You can drive a diesel powered SUV if you like.
And algae is as renewable a resource as it comes. The more we produce, the less petroleum we consume, and the more self-sufficient we become. At a magic point, we will be able to turn off imports altogether.
If the damn Democrats will just get out of the way and let adults run things.
Soybeans produce about a barrel of biodiesel per acre. And that is if everything goes right, as in no floods or droughts. Too much cropland would have to be tied up to make a difference if all you get for a year’s worth of hard farming is 40 something gallons of fuel per acre. It would be better to drill, go nuclear, and pursue biofuel options that did not require so much farmland, like algae and crops like switchgrass that could be grown in marginal areas like freeway medians or other areas not suitable for farming. There may not be one magic bullet to solve all of our energy problems, but several good options put together would be a better answer than going all out with corn ethanol.
I mean million, sorry and it was worldwide.
>”we could produce the necessary fuel from algae on about 10 million acres”
I still don’t think it work. We have many ‘novel’ ideas with no real results. I hope I am wrong since 10 million acres is nothing in US
“If there is an upside to high energy prices it is that the ingenuity of the American people gets put on display.
The thought of Arab oil billionaires being usurped by algae makes my heart proud.”
They’re just being replaced by a higher life form.
What part of California would these vast algae farms be located where seawater is readily available?
You could do some in the Temecula/Hemet area...wouldn’t be too hard to get seawater over there. Maybe the Imperial valley, too.
Also, there are some areas of central California that might work.
“oh, nevermind I thought this was an article about how bill clinton was going to help obama win the election”
So you thought pond scum would rescue pond scum? Oh, what am I saying, now I have insulted pond scum.
ping for reference
Actually, your statistic is "fishy" (as in odor). The "Energy Information Agency" gives the total US Petroleum consumption at not quite 21 million barrels per day, with gasoline consumption at slightly over 10 million barrels per day.
Algae is a boondoggle
You will have to dig maintain supply water to thousands of square miles of ponds
Then you have to dry out that algae goop before you get bio diesel from it
I doubt algae has much oil content the way soybeans or sunflower seeds do and you can squeeze cooking oil out of them. Thus are bio diesel sources
I'll bet the algae promoters claim they will bio engineer some kind of oily algae.
read post#36.... I agree
Algae is expensive to grow. Check out the prices for spirulina in the health food stores
About $25/lb minimum most is grown in Hawaii
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clinton is pond scum
obama is too inexperienced to be pond scum, I think of him more like a primordial oooze...
I’d guess that pond scum quality would be less but growing enough to make a real difference is going to be difficult.
Making oil is easy, making enough at reasonable costs isn’t and scaling a small scale project wayyy up has another set of problems.
Algae oil cultivators could be put in plastic tubes on a roof top or extra room in the backyard. With the proper processing equipment, sewer waste from your toilet and CO2 from you heating system, you could have fuel grade diesel fuel for your car. Of course, your car would be a plug in variety that you would run to work on the battery power and on long trips, run on your home grown diesel.
Of course, the cost of all of this might be out of reach for most of us.
The Valcent production method is talking about 100,000 gallons of fuel grade diesel per acre.
-Can you imagine how laborious and energy intensive it will be to dry out that pond scum enough to be processed (refined) into petroleum byproducts
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