NEW MIRACLE PROCEDURE: Algae into oil - in an hour
Method also includes cost-cutting methods to make it economical
It sounds like something that only the alchemists of legend could do: turning common algae into oil to power engines - in under an hour. As fantastical as this may seem, researchers have now found a way to do so. The new challenge will now be making such a process economical and worthwhile.
While there are other processes for converting algae to oil the PNNL process can continuously convert 1.5 liters of slurry into bio-fuel per hour.
First, wet algae with the consistency of soup is pumped into the front end of a chemical reactor. Up and humming, the crude oil is produced in less than an hour, along with water and a byproduct stream of material containing phosphorus. This material can then be recycled to grow more algae.
While long considered a potential source of bio-fuel, several companies have produced algae-based fuels on a research scale. The fuel would be far higher in price than what consumers pay at the pump. In the meantime, PNNL technology harnesses algae's energy potential efficiently and incorporates a number of methods to reduce the cost of producing algae fuel.
"Cost is the big roadblock for algae-based fuel," Douglas Elliott, who led the PNNL team's research says. "We believe that the process we've created will help make algae bio-fuels much more economical."
Most importantly, the cost-saving measure involves the use of wet algae. Most current processes require the algae to be dry, which is a process that takes a lot of energy and is expensive. The new process works with an algae slurry that contains as much as 80 to 90 percent water.
"Not having to dry the algae is a big win in this process; that cuts the cost a great deal," Elliott says. "Then there are bonuses, like being able to extract usable gas from the water and then recycle the remaining water and nutrients to help grow more algae, which further reduces costs."
While there are other processes for converting algae to oil the PNNL process can continuously convert 1.5 liters of slurry into bio-fuel per hour. The group also says that their process eliminates the need for complex solvents like hexane.
The PNNL team works with the whole algae, subjecting it to very hot water under high pressure to tear apart the substance. While this method requires a lot of heat and a lot of pressure, together this causes what is called hydrothermal liquefaction and catalytic hydrothermal gasification. While not cheap to build, Elliott says the savings "on the back end more than makes up for the investment."
"It's a bit like using a pressure cooker, only the pressures and temperatures we use are much higher," he said. "In a sense, we are duplicating the process in the Earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We're just doing it much, much faster."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Green News
- Fearsome beast once stalked Europe: New dinosaur identified
- Resident Evil: Extinction. 30,000-year-old giant virus revived from frozen Siberian tundra
- The world's getting hotter - in spite of reductions in global warming
- BAD PARENTING: Ants use their newborns as rafts in flood situations
- Powered by Google. Online monitoring system tracks global deforestation
- TOLD YOU SO: Human behavior now causing greatest mass extinction ever, and it's finally hitting you in the wallet
- Cereal giant Kellogg pledges only to use ethically supplied palm oil
- World's largest solar farm in Mojave Desert frying birds which flies over
- Source of Amazon River may be 57 miles longer than previously believed
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?