Algae Biofuel - the GREENEST of the Green?

Tuesday, December 04 2007

Business Week reports that "industrial giants ranging from Chevron (CVX) to Honeywell (HON) to Boeing (BA) are starting up algae business units."

Neat idea, and gets around the issues surrounding the use of acreage and fresh water to produce fuel instead of food crops. They're not fussy about where they call home: they'll grow up to 40 times faster than other plants in sal*censored*er and even wastewater. Experts say algae have the potential to deliver 10 or 100 times more energy per acre than current energy crops such as corn and soy. And they also soak up a lot of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. So what's the problem?

Plenty, as it turns out. You need to dry and process the plants in order to extract the oil - not easy or cheap. Then there's the challenge of reaching economies of scale - commercial scale that's measured in billions of gallons.

BIG challenges, but I sure do like the idea, and apparently so do venture capitalists, governments and power companies that are backing algae biofuel startups.

So, what do YOU think? Should we simply stick to enjoying seaweed in our miso soup?

Category: Enigmas, Tough Challenges
Filed under: Energy/Fuel, Green