Skip to comments.Algae to crude oil: Million-year natural process takes minutes in the lab
Posted on 12/20/2013 9:24:42 AM PST by logi_cal869
Engineers have created a continuous chemical process that produces useful crude oil minutes after they pour in harvested algae a verdant green paste with the consistency of pea soup.(snip)
In the PNNL process, a slurry of wet algae is pumped into the front end of a chemical reactor. Once the system is up and running, out comes crude oil in less than an hour, along with water and a byproduct stream of material containing phosphorus that can be recycled to grow more algae.
With additional conventional refining, the crude algae oil is converted into aviation fuel, gasoline or diesel fuel. And the waste water is processed further, yielding burnable gas and substances like potassium and nitrogen, which, along with the cleansed water, can also be recycled to grow more algae.(snip)
The recent work is part of DOE's National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels & Bioproducts, or NAABB. This project was funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Both PNNL and Genifuel have been partners in the NAABB program.
(Excerpt) Read more at pnnl.gov ...
Plus, a couple of ironies: Government research investment truly seems to have paid off, developing a potential process to free us from the Mideast and, secondly, this does nothing to reduce our so-called 'carbon footprint' (its product is hydrocarbons, regardless its source).
Another irony: They seem to have set out in 2009 to develop an 'algae-to-natural gas' process and discovered 'algae-to-oil' as an unexpected byproduct.
If they can get the cost down, refineries can go full cycle on-site, water being the only real raw material (if I understand it correctly). "Byproducts" & "waste" yet to be determined. Hopefully this stuff has the energy of petroleum-based gasoline.
I'll leave the rest of the speculation to others here.
Rust Belt cities on the Great Lakes have access to a lot of fresh water.
Turning “pea soup” into oil sounds like a good use for pea soup. I wonder if they will have to exclude ham from the recipe?
algae — it’s green energy.
It’s better than burning corn and driving up the cost of livestock feed and tacos.
Now to produce enough algae to make it economically doable — that’s the question.
If not will kudzu work???
To make this feasible on any significant scale,,,,how big are the algae ponds going to have to be? What’s the growth/turnover rate of the algae?
“In the PNNL process, a slurry of wet algae is pumped into the front end of a chemical reactor. Once the system is up and running, out comes crude oil in less than an hour, along with water and a byproduct stream of material containing phosphorus that can be recycled to grow more algae.”
So in this process more potential energy from oil is produced than energy consumed?
Grow it on sewage.
I wonder what the EROEI on algae is.
What investment of man hours, raw material and energy has to be put into each barrel of oil from this method?
I could get my 13 year old to power the house with a stationary bike generator, but then I would have to feed him. Not worth it.
Well, is this cost-effective (or could it be made to be) with shale oil?
If not, then it stands little chance of replacing that source. No matter how “green” the biological source of petroleum may be, there is a cost-benefit ratio that has to be respected.
Even if it's break even or not-quite break even, it still might be worth doing.
It converts intermittent sunlight into a continuous oil stream.
If it disposes of an otherwise burdensome waste stream.
“So in this process more potential energy from oil is produced than energy consumed?”
I think if you add in the sunlight and CO2 the algae needs it will be a slight net loss, given entropy (TdeltaS).
I doubt they sieve algae from water directly, though you could.
This is an interesting way of turning solar energy into a usable fuel.
Tens of millions of acres of algae pools to produce significant amounts of oil, not likely to be competitive with drilled wells.
You don’t feed him now?
May as well salvage something from the food budget...
Thanks FO the post.
By th way, this wouldn have to be excepted.
While I am not suggesting truth in the global warming / carbon output scam, the algae to oil plans result if far less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
The end product is essentially the same, but to grow the algae, it removes CO2 to grow. So what is released is carbon that was already in the air, not captured underground.
This isn’t activism.
Algae to oil processes are essentially a solar energy process. Sunlight provides the energy the algae needs to grow and build its hydrocarbon chains. The processing is just "squeezing out" the chemical energy captured from the solar energy input.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.