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More Reality Checks for Algal Biodiesel

I have to admit, when I first heard about algal biodiesel, I thought it was really an incredible concept. As time went by and I learned a bit more, reality sank in. The reality was brought on by Krassen Dimitrov’s analysis of Greenfuel Technologies and their algae claims, as well as conversations I have had with John Benemann, who has been involved in algal biodiesel research for many years (and was co-author of the close-out report of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program.) Krassen’s analysis raised some eyebrows when he suggested that algal biodiesel would have to sell for $20.31 a gallon to be economically viable. That number was so far out there, that many people just dismissed it out of hand.

During my ASPO presentation last year (Biofuels: Facts and Fallacies) I discussed algal biodiesel, and mentioned Solix Biofuels by name and in my slides. Interestingly, Bryan Wilson, a co-founder of the company, just went on record and suggested Krassen was an optimist:

Algae Biodiesel: It’s $33 a Gallon

Algae biofuel startup Solix, for instance, can produce biofuel from algae right now, but it costs about $32.81 a gallon, said Bryan Wilson, a co-founder of the company and a professor at Colorado State University. The production cost is high because of the energy required to circulate gases and other materials inside the photo bioreactors where the algae grow. It also takes energy to dry out the biomass, and Solix uses far less water than other companies (see Cutting the Cost of Making Algae by 90%).

I can’t tell you how refreshing (but very rare) it is to see an admission like this. The biggest warning signal there is that high costs are due to high energy requirements. This suggests a very poor energy return, which means that as oil prices rise, algae won’t necessarily become more viable. It will be subject to the Law of Receding Horizons, which simply means that energy sources that require high energy inputs will always see their point of economic viability pushed farther out as energy prices rise. Remember when oil was $20 a barrel, and oil shale was going to be viable at $40 oil? By the time oil got to $100, I was hearing that it would be viable at $120 oil.

This won’t stop people from throwing money at algal biodiesel. As John Benemann once said to me “This is a good research project, but nowhere close to commercialization.” Somehow, I don’t think this is the reason investors are throwing their money in that direction. They are falling victim to the hype of ‘the next big thing.’

Note: I am about to hop a plane for London, and will be largely out of contact for 5 days.

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February 28, 2009 - Posted by | algal biodiesel, Solix Biofuels

80 Comments

  1. Prof. Mario Tredici reported a few months back at the Algae Biomass conference that he had measured energy use in tube-based bioreactors versus paddlewheel-mixed open ponds and found that open ponds were about an order of magnitude better, with the bioreactors barely breaking even on EROI just taking mixing energy into account…of course things get much worse for PBRs when embodied E is taken into acct. (sorry I don’t have the #’s immediately available, but this was the gist.) If reliable flocculation and drying techniques can be developed (i.e. no centrifuges) then open ponds should have a pretty good EROI. So the type of production facility is very important, and Solix’s looks quite energy intensive. Of course, many (incl. Solix) are looking hard at co-products (esp. animal feed), which could change the picture somewhat.

    Comment by Farmer on Mars | February 28, 2009

  2. Prof. Mario Tredici reported a few months back at the Algae Biomass conference that he had measured energy use in tube-based bioreactors versus paddlewheel-mixed open ponds and found that open ponds were about an order of magnitude better, with the bioreactors barely breaking even on EROI just taking mixing energy into account…of course things get much worse for PBRs when embodied E is taken into acct. (sorry I don’t have the #’s immediately available, but this was the gist.) If reliable flocculation and drying techniques can be developed (i.e. no centrifuges) then open ponds should have a pretty good EROI. So the type of production facility is very important, and Solix’s looks quite energy intensive. Of course, many (incl. Solix) are looking hard at co-products (esp. animal feed), which could change the picture somewhat.

    Comment by Farmer on Mars | February 28, 2009

  3. I’m wondering if it might be possible to use (presumably) low cost but fixed energy sources, like geothermal energy, to produce the liquid and transportable fuel. It might not solve the EROI problem, but might transform the energy into a more flexible source. Of course, electricity might be an even better option…

    Comment by John | February 28, 2009

  4. I’m wondering if it might be possible to use (presumably) low cost but fixed energy sources, like geothermal energy, to produce the liquid and transportable fuel. It might not solve the EROI problem, but might transform the energy into a more flexible source. Of course, electricity might be an even better option…

    Comment by John | February 28, 2009

  5. Oh well! This is disappointing. The early reports on algae-dervied hydrocarbons had seemed quite promising.

    Then we look around and see that the only places where alternatives like photoelectrics, wind, ethanol are growing is where there are large subsidies from the ever-generous taxpayer, i.e. those alternative energy sources are not sustainable.

    All of this points to the blunt truth about the global energy situation. For at least the next 25-50 years, we need to go with the only large-scale non-fossil technology we have — nuclear fission. We need to use nuclear energy to support manufacturing transportation fuels (liquid hydrocarbons) from coal, shale, and tar sands.

    And we need to ramp up a very broad research effort into future energy sources that can compete without subsidies. That means finding some way to deny the Political Class the opportunity to pump taxpayer money into their friends’ pockets.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 28, 2009

  6. Oh well! This is disappointing. The early reports on algae-dervied hydrocarbons had seemed quite promising.Then we look around and see that the only places where alternatives like photoelectrics, wind, ethanol are growing is where there are large subsidies from the ever-generous taxpayer, i.e. those alternative energy sources are not sustainable.All of this points to the blunt truth about the global energy situation. For at least the next 25-50 years, we need to go with the only large-scale non-fossil technology we have — nuclear fission. We need to use nuclear energy to support manufacturing transportation fuels (liquid hydrocarbons) from coal, shale, and tar sands. And we need to ramp up a very broad research effort into future energy sources that can compete without subsidies. That means finding some way to deny the Political Class the opportunity to pump taxpayer money into their friends’ pockets.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 28, 2009

  7. This is further justification for the need for a systems approach to this. Every part of the system must be tweaked for efficiency to make the whole thing work, and some of these “problems” are also suggestions that perhaps other approaches that get around them, might be viable.

    Comment by Heading Out | February 28, 2009

  8. This is further justification for the need for a systems approach to this. Every part of the system must be tweaked for efficiency to make the whole thing work, and some of these “problems” are also suggestions that perhaps other approaches that get around them, might be viable.

    Comment by Heading Out | February 28, 2009

  9. Obviously, we should be building nukes, and I don’t we will even need that many. So many advances are being made in energy-efficient buildings, that electrical demand may not rise as expected. Indeed, a case could be made for falling electrical demand.
    I am a proud greenie-weenie, but even Dr Chu (Energy Secy) says we should build nukes. I like mini-nukes. Build away!
    Really, really smart guys in Israel were trying the algae stuff in the 1970-80s. Not only money was at stake, but the geo-political consequences would have been huge if algae-oil could have worked. I can only imagine the Israelis beat the brains out trying to get algae oil to work.
    It didn’t.
    But, palm oil is viable, and now, and new hybrids have doubled the latitudes in which it can be successfully planted (RR, there is a John Clendon at Univanich, a Thai palm oil company, who can fill you in on this. It is not a secret.)
    So, biofuels do have a future. Yields are rising too. Brazil could be the palm oil powerhouse of tomorrow. (If you are oil-centric, that is you think prosperity and liquid fuel are inextricably linked, you may wish to migrate to Brazil. From what I can see, they will have ethanol, oil and palm oil in spades in about 10 years.)

    Comment by benny "the centipede glut' cole | March 1, 2009

  10. Obviously, we should be building nukes, and I don’t we will even need that many. So many advances are being made in energy-efficient buildings, that electrical demand may not rise as expected. Indeed, a case could be made for falling electrical demand.
    I am a proud greenie-weenie, but even Dr Chu (Energy Secy) says we should build nukes. I like mini-nukes. Build away!
    Really, really smart guys in Israel were trying the algae stuff in the 1970-80s. Not only money was at stake, but the geo-political consequences would have been huge if algae-oil could have worked. I can only imagine the Israelis beat the brains out trying to get algae oil to work.
    It didn’t.
    But, palm oil is viable, and now, and new hybrids have doubled the latitudes in which it can be successfully planted (RR, there is a John Clendon at Univanich, a Thai palm oil company, who can fill you in on this. It is not a secret.)
    So, biofuels do have a future. Yields are rising too. Brazil could be the palm oil powerhouse of tomorrow. (If you are oil-centric, that is you think prosperity and liquid fuel are inextricably linked, you may wish to migrate to Brazil. From what I can see, they will have ethanol, oil and palm oil in spades in about 10 years.)

    Comment by benny "the centipede glut' cole | March 1, 2009

  11. Obviously, we should be building nukes, and I don’t we will even need that many. So many advances are being made in energy-efficient buildings, that electrical demand may not rise as expected. Indeed, a case could be made for falling electrical demand. I am a proud greenie-weenie, but even Dr Chu (Energy Secy) says we should build nukes. I like mini-nukes. Build away!Really, really smart guys in Israel were trying the algae stuff in the 1970-80s. Not only money was at stake, but the geo-political consequences would have been huge if algae-oil could have worked. I can only imagine the Israelis beat the brains out trying to get algae oil to work. It didn’t.But, palm oil is viable, and now, and new hybrids have doubled the latitudes in which it can be successfully planted (RR, there is a John Clendon at Univanich, a Thai palm oil company, who can fill you in on this. It is not a secret.)So, biofuels do have a future. Yields are rising too. Brazil could be the palm oil powerhouse of tomorrow. (If you are oil-centric, that is you think prosperity and liquid fuel are inextricably linked, you may wish to migrate to Brazil. From what I can see, they will have ethanol, oil and palm oil in spades in about 10 years.)

    Comment by benny "the centipede glut' cole | March 1, 2009

  12. Benny,
    Food-based biofuel is a crime against humanity, and yields don’t change that. Higher yields means more food, which is enough of an achievement.

    In fact, as this discussion shows, we’re a long way from identifying a viable energy crop. Perhaps a filamentous algal species (e. g. Spyrogyra), that would allow physical separation from the growth medium. Would have to be a marine species if we are going to get a large enough area under cultivation. Etc. Etc.

    The practical thing to do right now is to use excess biomass, like all that paper going into landfills, to produce liquid fuels. This would at least allow us to identify the feasible processes. Cellulosic ethanol? I don’t think so.

    Remember when oil was $20 a barrel, and oil shale was going to be viable at $40 oil? By the time oil got to $100, I was hearing that it would be viable at $120 oil.
    Too true. But if we are going to get to a viable biofuel future it will require $100/bbl (and beyond). Nothing is going to happen at $40/bbl.

    Comment by Optimist | March 1, 2009

  13. Benny,Food-based biofuel is a crime against humanity, and yields don’t change that. Higher yields means more food, which is enough of an achievement.In fact, as this discussion shows, we’re a long way from identifying a viable energy crop. Perhaps a filamentous algal species (e. g. Spyrogyra), that would allow physical separation from the growth medium. Would have to be a marine species if we are going to get a large enough area under cultivation. Etc. Etc.The practical thing to do right now is to use excess biomass, like all that paper going into landfills, to produce liquid fuels. This would at least allow us to identify the feasible processes. Cellulosic ethanol? I don’t think so.Remember when oil was $20 a barrel, and oil shale was going to be viable at $40 oil? By the time oil got to $100, I was hearing that it would be viable at $120 oil.Too true. But if we are going to get to a viable biofuel future it will require $100/bbl (and beyond). Nothing is going to happen at $40/bbl.

    Comment by Optimist | March 1, 2009

  14. ==Food-based biofuel is a crime against humanity, and yields don’t change that. Higher yields means more food, which is enough of an achievement.==

    But why only “foodbased”.

    Lets say I take a field filled with edible corn.

    And then replace it with a field of nonedible-corn.

    Does the fact that it’s not edible change it’s demand for fresh water, fertilizers, or farmland?

    Not really.

    Comment by GreyFlcn | March 2, 2009

  15. ==Food-based biofuel is a crime against humanity, and yields don’t change that. Higher yields means more food, which is enough of an achievement.==But why only “foodbased”.Lets say I take a field filled with edible corn.And then replace it with a field of nonedible-corn.Does the fact that it’s not edible change it’s demand for fresh water, fertilizers, or farmland?Not really.

    Comment by GreyFlcn | March 2, 2009

  16. A lot of actions are a crime against humanity, and I share the concerns raised here. But war and several other activities are worse than growing biofuels.
    Some researchers down San Diego way claim they can boost palm oil output several-fold, through genetic magic. We’ll see.
    Brazil has lots of land fallow, or former cattle ranches, that can be planted with palm. I think like anything else, you have to be balanced in your approach. A simple rule, “No biofuels” seems too rigid.
    Hey, I wish PHEVs were mandated, and nukes too. Then we wouldn’t need biofuels, or probably half the oil we use now, maybe less.
    I wish people would renounce any form of war and terrorism, and make universal health care the norm. I wish a lot of things.
    But in this world, palm oil is a profitable crop, and a very profitable biofuel.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 2, 2009

  17. A lot of actions are a crime against humanity, and I share the concerns raised here. But war and several other activities are worse than growing biofuels.Some researchers down San Diego way claim they can boost palm oil output several-fold, through genetic magic. We’ll see. Brazil has lots of land fallow, or former cattle ranches, that can be planted with palm. I think like anything else, you have to be balanced in your approach. A simple rule, “No biofuels” seems too rigid. Hey, I wish PHEVs were mandated, and nukes too. Then we wouldn’t need biofuels, or probably half the oil we use now, maybe less. I wish people would renounce any form of war and terrorism, and make universal health care the norm. I wish a lot of things.But in this world, palm oil is a profitable crop, and a very profitable biofuel.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 2, 2009

  18. Wasn’t Spyro Gyra a 1970’s fusion jazz band?

    If you could seperate the paper, plastic, and any other hydrocarbon based trash, we could chunk it into a gasifier and make fuel out of it. The metals, glass, clays, etc. are a problem. You would also need to grind it up enough to pump it into a slury. Biomass, coal, and petroleum coke aren’t much of a problem. Your discarded vaccum cleaner presents more of a problem.

    Comment by KingofKaty | March 2, 2009

  19. Wasn’t Spyro Gyra a 1970’s fusion jazz band? If you could seperate the paper, plastic, and any other hydrocarbon based trash, we could chunk it into a gasifier and make fuel out of it. The metals, glass, clays, etc. are a problem. You would also need to grind it up enough to pump it into a slury. Biomass, coal, and petroleum coke aren’t much of a problem. Your discarded vaccum cleaner presents more of a problem.

    Comment by KingofKaty | March 2, 2009

  20. Talk about a reality check.
    Check out British Petroleum (BP) and ConocoPhillips (COP) today.
    BP now offering a yield north of 9 percent, and COP north of 5 percent. If they can maintain dividend. Oil stocks are off 5-10 percent today.
    I sense capitulation. The future for oil is somewhat dull for the next several years (maybe even 10), and Wall Street does not look further out than that.
    I do not get a good feeling about the global economy.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 2, 2009

  21. Talk about a reality check.Check out British Petroleum (BP) and ConocoPhillips (COP) today. BP now offering a yield north of 9 percent, and COP north of 5 percent. If they can maintain dividend. Oil stocks are off 5-10 percent today.I sense capitulation. The future for oil is somewhat dull for the next several years (maybe even 10), and Wall Street does not look further out than that. I do not get a good feeling about the global economy.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 2, 2009

  22. It only takes a simple thought experiment to conclude that biodiesel from algae probably doesn’t make economic sense.

    It took nature about 300 million years to make oil from algae and phyto-plankton using massive amounts of free heat and pressure.

    If we want to speed up that process from 300 million years to a few days or so, someone is going to have spend lots of money to purchase what Mother Nature provided free of charge.

    The most economic way to produce oil from algae would be to bury it and wait 300 million years. If we want to speed that process up someone will have top pay for it.

    John said: “I’m wondering if it might be possible to use (presumably) low cost but fixed energy sources, like geothermal energy.”

    John,

    That’s exactly what Mother Nature did. She used free geothermal energy. That energy is still there ~ free of charge. We just have to be willing to wait, or willing to spend to accelerate that process.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | March 2, 2009

  23. It only takes a simple thought experiment to conclude that biodiesel from algae probably doesn’t make economic sense.It took nature about 300 million years to make oil from algae and phyto-plankton using massive amounts of free heat and pressure.If we want to speed up that process from 300 million years to a few days or so, someone is going to have spend lots of money to purchase what Mother Nature provided free of charge.The most economic way to produce oil from algae would be to bury it and wait 300 million years. If we want to speed that process up someone will have top pay for it.John said: “I’m wondering if it might be possible to use (presumably) low cost but fixed energy sources, like geothermal energy.”John,That’s exactly what Mother Nature did. She used free geothermal energy. That energy is still there ~ free of charge. We just have to be willing to wait, or willing to spend to accelerate that process.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | March 2, 2009

  24. @ KoK

    Is ,KoK

    RBM

    Comment by Anonymous | March 2, 2009

  25. @ KoKIs ,KoKRBM

    Comment by Anonymous | March 2, 2009

  26. But why only “foodbased”.
    Thanks, GreyFlcn, I needed to be way more specific. Let me revise my statement:
    Food-based biofuel (or any crop-based biofuel that would compete with food production) is a crime against humanity.

    Would that suffice? Any suggestions?

    If you could seperate the paper, plastic, and any other hydrocarbon based trash, we could chunk it into a gasifier and make fuel out of it… Your discarded vaccum cleaner presents more of a problem.
    I believe that problem has been solved, King, by the people who recycle old motor cars. Here’s one hint: Automobile recyclers have long wondered what to do with shredder residue, the leftover material that remains after shredding vehicles and recovering the metals.

    The most economic way to produce oil from algae would be to bury it and wait 300 million years. If we want to speed that process up someone will have top pay for it.
    Well, that’s a great attitude, Wendell! In a mere 300 million years we’ll all be rich! Great!

    Hint: look a what is happening with industrial diamonds. Nature is not perfect. Sometimes one can improve on its methods.

    It only takes a simple thought experiment to conclude that biodiesel from algae probably doesn’t make economic sense.
    Agreed. The problem can be summarized in a word: biodiesel. See King’s comment for more.

    Wasn’t Spyro Gyra a 1970’s fusion jazz band?
    And the band got its name from?

    Comment by Optimist | March 2, 2009

  27. But why only “foodbased”.Thanks, GreyFlcn, I needed to be way more specific. Let me revise my statement:Food-based biofuel (or any crop-based biofuel that would compete with food production) is a crime against humanity.Would that suffice? Any suggestions?If you could seperate the paper, plastic, and any other hydrocarbon based trash, we could chunk it into a gasifier and make fuel out of it… Your discarded vaccum cleaner presents more of a problem.I believe that problem has been solved, King, by the people who recycle old motor cars. Here’s one hint: Automobile recyclers have long wondered what to do with shredder residue, the leftover material that remains after shredding vehicles and recovering the metals.The most economic way to produce oil from algae would be to bury it and wait 300 million years. If we want to speed that process up someone will have top pay for it.Well, that’s a great attitude, Wendell! In a mere 300 million years we’ll all be rich! Great!Hint: look a what is happening with industrial diamonds. Nature is not perfect. Sometimes one can improve on its methods.It only takes a simple thought experiment to conclude that biodiesel from algae probably doesn’t make economic sense.Agreed. The problem can be summarized in a word: biodiesel. See King’s comment for more.Wasn’t Spyro Gyra a 1970’s fusion jazz band? And the band got its name from?

    Comment by Optimist | March 2, 2009

  28. I seem to remember reading that algal biodiesel can have an excellent EROI if grown in open ponds…its just incredibly difficult to keep the necessary specie alive and pure, as high lipid algae have a tendency to be outcompeted by other species.

    Of course, the obvious answer is to tinker with the genome of the algae until we hit the sweet spot of high lipid and high viability. Whether we’ll find it in time to hold off the worst effects of peak oil is another question entirely. Considering how fast almost all genetic technologies are moving, I have hope. If only we were throwing heaps of money at possibly game changing research instead of subsidies to pay for what we already know can’t compete on its own.

    -JR

    Comment by Anonymous | March 3, 2009

  29. I seem to remember reading that algal biodiesel can have an excellent EROI if grown in open ponds…its just incredibly difficult to keep the necessary specie alive and pure, as high lipid algae have a tendency to be outcompeted by other species. Of course, the obvious answer is to tinker with the genome of the algae until we hit the sweet spot of high lipid and high viability. Whether we’ll find it in time to hold off the worst effects of peak oil is another question entirely. Considering how fast almost all genetic technologies are moving, I have hope. If only we were throwing heaps of money at possibly game changing research instead of subsidies to pay for what we already know can’t compete on its own. -JR

    Comment by Anonymous | March 3, 2009

  30. Grey Falcon and Optimist:

    Okay, suppose palm oil yields triple, and palm oil starts replacing crude oil at $50 a barrel or above.
    Then, two things: One, the price of oil is kept lower than otherwise, meaning poor people everywhere have a better life, and 2) biofuels in general mean net no new CO2 emissions, so our overall C)2 emissions go down.

    In this case palm oil means higher living standards and lower net CO2 emissions (C02 is taken out of the atmosphere in the creation of biofuels, and put back in when burned).

    This seems to me a positive all the way around.

    What is more remarkable, it actually could happen. There is plenty of land to grow palms, especially in Brazil. At more than $50 a barrel, palm oil very profitable as a diesel. Yields are rising, and a La Jolla-based company, Synthetic Genomics, thinks manifold increases in yield are possible.

    To just flatly state “no biofuels” seems to be replacing thoughtful discourse with diktats.

    Thin about it: What is yields quadruple? If palm oil is cheaper than crude oil (and at more than $50 a barrel it is), then why not use palm oil? The use will spur even more production.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 3, 2009

  31. Grey Falcon and Optimist:Okay, suppose palm oil yields triple, and palm oil starts replacing crude oil at $50 a barrel or above.Then, two things: One, the price of oil is kept lower than otherwise, meaning poor people everywhere have a better life, and 2) biofuels in general mean net no new CO2 emissions, so our overall C)2 emissions go down.In this case palm oil means higher living standards and lower net CO2 emissions (C02 is taken out of the atmosphere in the creation of biofuels, and put back in when burned).This seems to me a positive all the way around. What is more remarkable, it actually could happen. There is plenty of land to grow palms, especially in Brazil. At more than $50 a barrel, palm oil very profitable as a diesel. Yields are rising, and a La Jolla-based company, Synthetic Genomics, thinks manifold increases in yield are possible. To just flatly state “no biofuels” seems to be replacing thoughtful discourse with diktats. Thin about it: What is yields quadruple? If palm oil is cheaper than crude oil (and at more than $50 a barrel it is), then why not use palm oil? The use will spur even more production.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 3, 2009

  32. What people seem to miss in this picture is that even if algae-based biodiesel were free – it still floats on this planet’s water bodies like an Exxon Valdez oil spill. Same thing for biodiesel produced via transestrification from waste waste french-fry plant or animal oils.

    Nobody seems to understand much about the waste products therein involved or even consider that it takes precious water to clarify and separate this plant oil away from leftovers including gelatin.

    The Solix partners looking to expand with So. Ute Indians in s.w. Colorado admit that the ‘bio oil’ this algae can produce still then needs to go to a refinery to be further processed before it can be blended with petroleum-based diesel.

    I see people getting excited here like this is a “green” pipe dream and they have no real technical expertise to thus evaluate the processing or consequences of these actions. I”m glad that folks are getting the first blush herein that maybe algae biodiesel might cost $20 or $30 per gallon to actually produce. That is a wake up call!

    The biggest mistake still seems to be the mindset that something needs to be planted and grown to produce alternative biofuels. Nada.

    Carbon is carbon is carbon as a basic building block. The paradigm shift is changing the mechanism to isolate and recombine that carbon atom into new fuels and incorporate oxygen derived from boiling water into steam into this process.

    But that would produce higher alcohols now wouldn’t it? Not float on water oils. Hummmmm….

    Comment by Anonymous | March 3, 2009

  33. What people seem to miss in this picture is that even if algae-based biodiesel were free – it still floats on this planet’s water bodies like an Exxon Valdez oil spill. Same thing for biodiesel produced via transestrification from waste waste french-fry plant or animal oils.Nobody seems to understand much about the waste products therein involved or even consider that it takes precious water to clarify and separate this plant oil away from leftovers including gelatin.The Solix partners looking to expand with So. Ute Indians in s.w. Colorado admit that the ‘bio oil’ this algae can produce still then needs to go to a refinery to be further processed before it can be blended with petroleum-based diesel.I see people getting excited here like this is a “green” pipe dream and they have no real technical expertise to thus evaluate the processing or consequences of these actions. I”m glad that folks are getting the first blush herein that maybe algae biodiesel might cost $20 or $30 per gallon to actually produce. That is a wake up call!The biggest mistake still seems to be the mindset that something needs to be planted and grown to produce alternative biofuels. Nada. Carbon is carbon is carbon as a basic building block. The paradigm shift is changing the mechanism to isolate and recombine that carbon atom into new fuels and incorporate oxygen derived from boiling water into steam into this process.But that would produce higher alcohols now wouldn’t it? Not float on water oils. Hummmmm….

    Comment by Anonymous | March 3, 2009

  34. “Well, that’s a great attitude, Wendell! In a mere 300 million years we’ll all be rich! Great!”

    Optimist,

    It is great ~ we just have to learn to be patient. 😉

    After all, for the last 100 years we have been living well off the algae and phyto-planktons that got buried and metamorphosed over millions of years. When we use that up, we’ll just have to be patient and wait for Mother Nature to reload.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | March 3, 2009

  35. “Well, that’s a great attitude, Wendell! In a mere 300 million years we’ll all be rich! Great!”Optimist,It is great ~ we just have to learn to be patient. ;-)After all, for the last 100 years we have been living well off the algae and phyto-planktons that got buried and metamorphosed over millions of years. When we use that up, we’ll just have to be patient and wait for Mother Nature to reload.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | March 3, 2009

  36. When we use that up, we’ll just have to be patient and wait for Mother Nature to reload.
    You wait. I’ll find another way to get around. When I do, I might even share it for a nominal fee…

    Comment by Optimist | March 3, 2009

  37. When we use that up, we’ll just have to be patient and wait for Mother Nature to reload.You wait. I’ll find another way to get around. When I do, I might even share it for a nominal fee…

    Comment by Optimist | March 3, 2009

  38. Okay, suppose palm oil yields triple, and palm oil starts replacing crude oil at $50 a barrel or above.
    Then, two things: One, the price of oil is kept lower than otherwise, meaning poor people everywhere have a better life, and 2) biofuels in general mean net no new CO2 emissions, so our overall C)2 emissions go down.

    Earth calling, Benny! Earth calling, Benny! You are moving outside the gravitational field of the planet! I repeat:…

    Let’s try that again, as it would happen on this planet: suppose palm oil yields triple, and palm oil starts replacing crude oil at $50 a barrel or above. Then, [Correction inserted] demand exceeds supply (depending on whether oil is priced below or above $50/bbl). Prices go up. Great for the few palm farmers. Does nothing for earth’s energy balance, because there isn’t enough palm oil to make a dent. Causes great stress on the food budgets of the poor the world over. We’ve seen this movie before. We know how it ends. Yields change absolutely squat, unless you are going to change them by orders of magnitude.

    You’re free to invest in palm plantations, Benny, it’s your money. But I’d make sure they had a business case outside fuels.

    Comment by Optimist | March 3, 2009

  39. Okay, suppose palm oil yields triple, and palm oil starts replacing crude oil at $50 a barrel or above.Then, two things: One, the price of oil is kept lower than otherwise, meaning poor people everywhere have a better life, and 2) biofuels in general mean net no new CO2 emissions, so our overall C)2 emissions go down.Earth calling, Benny! Earth calling, Benny! You are moving outside the gravitational field of the planet! I repeat:…Let’s try that again, as it would happen on this planet: suppose palm oil yields triple, and palm oil starts replacing crude oil at $50 a barrel or above. Then, [Correction inserted] demand exceeds supply (depending on whether oil is priced below or above $50/bbl). Prices go up. Great for the few palm farmers. Does nothing for earth’s energy balance, because there isn’t enough palm oil to make a dent. Causes great stress on the food budgets of the poor the world over. We’ve seen this movie before. We know how it ends. Yields change absolutely squat, unless you are going to change them by orders of magnitude.You’re free to invest in palm plantations, Benny, it’s your money. But I’d make sure they had a business case outside fuels.

    Comment by Optimist | March 3, 2009

  40. Of course, the obvious answer is to tinker with the genome of the algae until we hit the sweet spot of high lipid and high viability.
    Sorry, JR, you missed the plot somewhat.

    1. A genetically modified super-lipid turbo algal species in an open pond is not the answer: in an open pond no GM species can compete with the wild types. To keep your GM species growing you’ll need to sterilize all process inputs (including the water) and cover the pond. Business case: DOA.

    2. Take one step back: let’s say we only tried to do wild types and tried to manipulate growing conditions in order to maximize lipid yields. Now the algae are growing so slowly, the overall production is way down. Business case: OUCH!

    3. OK, then, let’s just grow whatever algae establish itself in our open pond, and harvest whatever lipid we can. Now the algal biomass AND lipid yield is up (compared to #2), but lipid yields are still low. Business case: Why is there so much red ink?

    4. Another improvement: grow wild type, harvest the entire biomass, dry it in the sun and gasify before converting it into a liquid fuel. Much better than all of the above. But when you factor in the cost of the pond (even assuming the land is free; Hint: you are going to need a lot of acres) and all the evaporative losses over all those acres (“We need how many million gallons of water a day?”), the business case is still: I can’t get a pulse!

    5. Best case scenario: do this in the open ocean, where the acres are free, and you don’t have to worry about evaporation, water supply, etc. Algal species must stay close to the surface, by definition. Critical needs to make this work: a way to harvest algae from large areas with low energy input. Hint: maybe we can use this to clean up the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico AND get some energy in return. Business case: Unknown at best.

    Whether we’ll find it in time to hold off the worst effects of peak oil is another question entirely.
    Stop sweating it, man! We need that high oil prices before we will be properly motivated to invent the next big solution*.
    * Problems associated with this solution will appear in due course.

    If only we were throwing heaps of money at possibly game changing research instead of subsidies to pay for what we already know can’t compete on its own.
    I suggest you snap out of the idea that our leaders will do anything remotely helpful. Most likely the solution is going to come out of Joe Sixpack’s garage.

    Hint: Which party did you prefer?
    Option 1: Drill, baby, drill!
    Option 2: Super-profit tax on the energy producers.

    Comment by Optimist | March 3, 2009

  41. Of course, the obvious answer is to tinker with the genome of the algae until we hit the sweet spot of high lipid and high viability.Sorry, JR, you missed the plot somewhat.1. A genetically modified super-lipid turbo algal species in an open pond is not the answer: in an open pond no GM species can compete with the wild types. To keep your GM species growing you’ll need to sterilize all process inputs (including the water) and cover the pond. Business case: DOA.2. Take one step back: let’s say we only tried to do wild types and tried to manipulate growing conditions in order to maximize lipid yields. Now the algae are growing so slowly, the overall production is way down. Business case: OUCH!3. OK, then, let’s just grow whatever algae establish itself in our open pond, and harvest whatever lipid we can. Now the algal biomass AND lipid yield is up (compared to #2), but lipid yields are still low. Business case: Why is there so much red ink?4. Another improvement: grow wild type, harvest the entire biomass, dry it in the sun and gasify before converting it into a liquid fuel. Much better than all of the above. But when you factor in the cost of the pond (even assuming the land is free; Hint: you are going to need a lot of acres) and all the evaporative losses over all those acres (“We need how many million gallons of water a day?”), the business case is still: I can’t get a pulse!5. Best case scenario: do this in the open ocean, where the acres are free, and you don’t have to worry about evaporation, water supply, etc. Algal species must stay close to the surface, by definition. Critical needs to make this work: a way to harvest algae from large areas with low energy input. Hint: maybe we can use this to clean up the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico AND get some energy in return. Business case: Unknown at best.Whether we’ll find it in time to hold off the worst effects of peak oil is another question entirely.Stop sweating it, man! We need that high oil prices before we will be properly motivated to invent the next big solution*.* Problems associated with this solution will appear in due course.If only we were throwing heaps of money at possibly game changing research instead of subsidies to pay for what we already know can’t compete on its own.I suggest you snap out of the idea that our leaders will do anything remotely helpful. Most likely the solution is going to come out of Joe Sixpack’s garage.Hint: Which party did you prefer?Option 1: Drill, baby, drill!Option 2: Super-profit tax on the energy producers.

    Comment by Optimist | March 3, 2009

  42. Optimist:
    You contradict yourself. You say demand will soar if oil is kept at $50 a barrel, but later you suggest investing in palm oil is risky, if doing do to sell as biofuel.
    And you do not refute how a greater supply of fuel is helpful to poor poeple, and that biofuels are CO2 neutral.
    Actually, as a business, there is money to be made in palm oil, even if selling as vegetable oil, for use in cooking etc (Plan A).
    You get an extra bang if crude oil prices rise so high that you can switch markets and sell palm oil as biofuel. Plan B is even better than Plan A.
    Perhaps there is not enough palm oil to make a serious dent in world markets–although even here, I think discourse, not hysterical dictums, are useful.
    We know from experience that the demand for oil is short-term price inelastic. If demand exceeds supply even by a modest amount, price rationing takes place, and it can get brutal. That’s where you get your $200 a barrel scare stories.
    If biofuels add 5 mbd to global supplies, that could mean the differenece to a world market with slight surpluses (and $50 oil) and a world with perceived shortages, and $150 oil.
    You must concede this is a reasonable suggestion. You know world demand is about 87 mbd (or maybe 78 mbd by 2010), and that 5 mbd from palm oil is a possibility within 5-10 years.
    I say bring on all the liquid feul supplies possible, while trying to restrain demand through gas taxes. This is the only way to avoid transferring trillions of dollars out of our economy and to thug states.
    The good news is that Brazil is looking at palm oil. It is not s secret. I wonder if there are political concerns raised by the ethanol industry in Brazil.
    Still, in 10 years time Brazil could eclipse SE Asia as the world capital of palm oil.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 3, 2009

  43. Optimist:You contradict yourself. You say demand will soar if oil is kept at $50 a barrel, but later you suggest investing in palm oil is risky, if doing do to sell as biofuel. And you do not refute how a greater supply of fuel is helpful to poor poeple, and that biofuels are CO2 neutral. Actually, as a business, there is money to be made in palm oil, even if selling as vegetable oil, for use in cooking etc (Plan A).You get an extra bang if crude oil prices rise so high that you can switch markets and sell palm oil as biofuel. Plan B is even better than Plan A. Perhaps there is not enough palm oil to make a serious dent in world markets–although even here, I think discourse, not hysterical dictums, are useful. We know from experience that the demand for oil is short-term price inelastic. If demand exceeds supply even by a modest amount, price rationing takes place, and it can get brutal. That’s where you get your $200 a barrel scare stories.If biofuels add 5 mbd to global supplies, that could mean the differenece to a world market with slight surpluses (and $50 oil) and a world with perceived shortages, and $150 oil. You must concede this is a reasonable suggestion. You know world demand is about 87 mbd (or maybe 78 mbd by 2010), and that 5 mbd from palm oil is a possibility within 5-10 years. I say bring on all the liquid feul supplies possible, while trying to restrain demand through gas taxes. This is the only way to avoid transferring trillions of dollars out of our economy and to thug states. The good news is that Brazil is looking at palm oil. It is not s secret. I wonder if there are political concerns raised by the ethanol industry in Brazil. Still, in 10 years time Brazil could eclipse SE Asia as the world capital of palm oil.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 3, 2009

  44. Maury-
    Scientific American tips its hat to your geothermal power scheme:
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=can-geothermal-power-compete-with-coal-on-price

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 3, 2009

  45. Maury-Scientific American tips its hat to your geothermal power scheme: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=can-geothermal-power-compete-with-coal-on-price

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 3, 2009

  46. “This is the only way to avoid transferring trillions of dollars out of our economy and to thug states.”

    Benny, Benny, Benny! We have been over this before. Money circulates. The US exchanges pieces of paper for oil from a Thug State. Thug State then exchanges those pieces of paper for Boeings and Cadillacs. Everybody wins!

    The only way this system breaks down is if the US does not make Boeings & Cadillacs.

    Unfortunately, the prevailing political view of the future economy seems to have the entire US population in college, learning how to be community organizers. No-one is to make anything that anyone would buy. That model might have worked for The One, but it certainly does not scale to working for All.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 4, 2009

  47. “This is the only way to avoid transferring trillions of dollars out of our economy and to thug states.”Benny, Benny, Benny! We have been over this before. Money circulates. The US exchanges pieces of paper for oil from a Thug State. Thug State then exchanges those pieces of paper for Boeings and Cadillacs. Everybody wins!The only way this system breaks down is if the US does not make Boeings & Cadillacs. Unfortunately, the prevailing political view of the future economy seems to have the entire US population in college, learning how to be community organizers. No-one is to make anything that anyone would buy. That model might have worked for The One, but it certainly does not scale to working for All.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 4, 2009

  48. Kinu-
    Sending trillions to Thug States is bad policy. 1) They buy arms, kill people 2) They spread hate 3) They kill political opponents 4) They do not buy Caddies and planes, but they buy land and stock–they buy influence in our country, buy off our leaders, and even a very, very recent US President.
    5) Even if we accept your argument, that the thug states buy our goods, that means we are working to produce goods for foreign potentates, and not goods and services for our fellow citizens. We are getting deeper and deeper into debt.
    6) I went to school, and I know all about the putative advantages of free trade. The only problem is, I never see them in real life. I am also told not to be an isolationist.
    Yet looks what “internationalism” has bought us: 1) A hugely expensive involvement in Vietnam, and 60,000 US dead, and 1 million Vietnamese dead 2) A $1 trillion foray into Iraq, 4,500 US dead, who knows how many Iraqis, 3) the world’s most expensive military, by a factor of 10, a parasite upon our productive enterprises 4) a decimation of our manufacturing base. 5) We ain’t even started in Afghanistan yet, who nows how long that will take, or how many lives.
    After decades of expanding int’l trade, US wages are stagnant since 1972, while the minimum wage is lower than in the 1960s, adjusted for inflation.
    I try to be cosmopolitan, but at times it is tough. On my worst days, I want Buchanan for Prezzy.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 4, 2009

  49. Kinu-Sending trillions to Thug States is bad policy. 1) They buy arms, kill people 2) They spread hate 3) They kill political opponents 4) They do not buy Caddies and planes, but they buy land and stock–they buy influence in our country, buy off our leaders, and even a very, very recent US President. 5) Even if we accept your argument, that the thug states buy our goods, that means we are working to produce goods for foreign potentates, and not goods and services for our fellow citizens. We are getting deeper and deeper into debt.6) I went to school, and I know all about the putative advantages of free trade. The only problem is, I never see them in real life. I am also told not to be an isolationist.Yet looks what “internationalism” has bought us: 1) A hugely expensive involvement in Vietnam, and 60,000 US dead, and 1 million Vietnamese dead 2) A $1 trillion foray into Iraq, 4,500 US dead, who knows how many Iraqis, 3) the world’s most expensive military, by a factor of 10, a parasite upon our productive enterprises 4) a decimation of our manufacturing base. 5) We ain’t even started in Afghanistan yet, who nows how long that will take, or how many lives.After decades of expanding int’l trade, US wages are stagnant since 1972, while the minimum wage is lower than in the 1960s, adjusted for inflation. I try to be cosmopolitan, but at times it is tough. On my worst days, I want Buchanan for Prezzy.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 4, 2009

  50. Optimist said: “You wait. I’ll find another way to get around. When I do, I might even share it for a nominal fee…”

    OK, but you do realize your trying to replace something that took hundreds of millions of years to make and that used an almost infinite amount of energy in the form of heat and pressure in order to make the transformation from algae to oil?

    There is no free lunch. Any scheme to replace that means someone has to pay for what Mother Nature provides free ~ over time.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | March 4, 2009

  51. Optimist said: “You wait. I’ll find another way to get around. When I do, I might even share it for a nominal fee…”OK, but you do realize your trying to replace something that took hundreds of millions of years to make and that used an almost infinite amount of energy in the form of heat and pressure in order to make the transformation from algae to oil?There is no free lunch. Any scheme to replace that means someone has to pay for what Mother Nature provides free ~ over time.

    Comment by Wendell Mercantile | March 4, 2009

  52. Wendell-
    Sheel is going into Jordan, with a $20 billion plan to pump shale oil. Heavy oil and shale oil deposits dwarf light deposits, globally.
    Our grandchildren will have plenty of oil, barring geopoltical problems. There are no geological problems.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 4, 2009

  53. Wendell-Sheel is going into Jordan, with a $20 billion plan to pump shale oil. Heavy oil and shale oil deposits dwarf light deposits, globally. Our grandchildren will have plenty of oil, barring geopoltical problems. There are no geological problems.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 4, 2009

  54. Thanks for the link Benny. The article was talking about your garden variety,shallow geothermal though. Deep geothermal will cost more intitially….but the water is a LOT hotter. Drilling wells 5 miles deep costs a bundle. Oil majors will have a huge advantage over the competition when deep geothermal gets rolling. They drill deep wells every day,and they have CASH in the bank….so they won’t be borrowing money at inflated rates for project costs.

    Comment by Maury | March 5, 2009

  55. Thanks for the link Benny. The article was talking about your garden variety,shallow geothermal though. Deep geothermal will cost more intitially….but the water is a LOT hotter. Drilling wells 5 miles deep costs a bundle. Oil majors will have a huge advantage over the competition when deep geothermal gets rolling. They drill deep wells every day,and they have CASH in the bank….so they won’t be borrowing money at inflated rates for project costs.

    Comment by Maury | March 5, 2009

  56. “Deep geothermal will cost more intitially….but the water is a LOT hotter.”

    Maury, we have been over this before too. The water is a lot hotter at great depth. By the time it has been brought up to the surface, flowing through that 7 mile long heat exchanger, it won’t be that hot anymore.

    And as the water cools down on the way to the surface, it will start to deposit its highly concentrated salts, blocking the pipes. Deep geothermal really is a poor idea.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 5, 2009

  57. “Deep geothermal will cost more intitially….but the water is a LOT hotter.”Maury, we have been over this before too. The water is a lot hotter at great depth. By the time it has been brought up to the surface, flowing through that 7 mile long heat exchanger, it won’t be that hot anymore.And as the water cools down on the way to the surface, it will start to deposit its highly concentrated salts, blocking the pipes. Deep geothermal really is a poor idea.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 5, 2009

  58. Deep Geothermal must be doable if people are doing it Kinuachdrach. Europe has two EGS plants feeding the grid already.

    Comment by Maury | March 5, 2009

  59. Deep Geothermal must be doable if people are doing it Kinuachdrach. Europe has two EGS plants feeding the grid already.

    Comment by Maury | March 5, 2009

  60. You know, shale oil must finally be a “go.” Would Shell blow $20 billion to heat shale in Jordan if it thought it was an “iffy” technology?
    I realize people have made bad investment decisions before. But Shell strikes me as a pretty smart outfit, and $20 billion is not an amount to be tossed around lightly.
    If shale works, it is yet another huge gaping hole in the peak oil doom arguments.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 5, 2009

  61. You know, shale oil must finally be a “go.” Would Shell blow $20 billion to heat shale in Jordan if it thought it was an “iffy” technology? I realize people have made bad investment decisions before. But Shell strikes me as a pretty smart outfit, and $20 billion is not an amount to be tossed around lightly. If shale works, it is yet another huge gaping hole in the peak oil doom arguments.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 5, 2009

  62. Kingo0

    Here is an article from Foreign Policy magazine. It claims Russia has signed a long-term contract to sell oil to China at $20 a barrel. That is not $10 a barrel, but we are creeping closer and closer…..

    “The Russia-China oil puzzle
    Wed, 02/18/2009 – 7:08pm
    By Philip Zelikow

    As announced by Igor Sechin on leaving Beijing, it appears that the Chinese government will loan $25 billion to two giant energy companies controlled by the Russian government. In exchange, the Russian government has pledged to supply 15 million tons of oil to China per year for the next 20 years.

    This appears, roughly, to be a pledge of about 2.2 billion barrels of oil, over the next 20 years, in exchange for $25 billion now. Depending on how one calculates the cumulative value of present money, this sounds like a deal worth something in the neighborhood of $20 a barrel. And this would lock in at least about 5 percent of all Russian oil exports just for the Chinese market, at such an effective price. I invite others to share information that contradict or elaborate on these apparent estimates.”

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 5, 2009

  63. Kingo0Here is an article from Foreign Policy magazine. It claims Russia has signed a long-term contract to sell oil to China at $20 a barrel. That is not $10 a barrel, but we are creeping closer and closer…..”The Russia-China oil puzzleWed, 02/18/2009 – 7:08pmBy Philip ZelikowAs announced by Igor Sechin on leaving Beijing, it appears that the Chinese government will loan $25 billion to two giant energy companies controlled by the Russian government. In exchange, the Russian government has pledged to supply 15 million tons of oil to China per year for the next 20 years.This appears, roughly, to be a pledge of about 2.2 billion barrels of oil, over the next 20 years, in exchange for $25 billion now. Depending on how one calculates the cumulative value of present money, this sounds like a deal worth something in the neighborhood of $20 a barrel. And this would lock in at least about 5 percent of all Russian oil exports just for the Chinese market, at such an effective price. I invite others to share information that contradict or elaborate on these apparent estimates.”

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 5, 2009

  64. Hey Benny, ease up on the isolationism. Keep in mind that plot of land in Thailand or Brazil you still want to buy.

    Plus, some of us thug states actually like trading with you, and it’s not all about arms.

    And if that doesn’t convince you … then my thug state (Ireland) has already infiltrated you with some tens of millions of agents.

    😉

    Comment by PeteS | March 6, 2009

  65. Hey Benny, ease up on the isolationism. Keep in mind that plot of land in Thailand or Brazil you still want to buy.Plus, some of us thug states actually like trading with you, and it’s not all about arms.And if that doesn’t convince you … then my thug state (Ireland) has already infiltrated you with some tens of millions of agents.;-)

    Comment by PeteS | March 6, 2009

  66. Pete S. Yeah, I know. I have 100 acres in Thailand, through my wife.
    I like the Irish, through. Bring in a few more million.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 6, 2009

  67. Pete S. Yeah, I know. I have 100 acres in Thailand, through my wife. I like the Irish, through. Bring in a few more million.

    Comment by benny "centipede glut" cole | March 6, 2009

  68. “This appears, roughly, to be a pledge of about 2.2 billion barrels of oil, over the next 20 years, in exchange for $25 billion now.”

    Ask yourself — Who has the money today, once the deal has been done? Who has to hope that future Russian gov'ts will honor the deal for the next 25 years?

    Both Russia & China are playing deep long-term games — much deeper than anything the Obaminoids can hope to understand, let alone change. But it is a fairly safe bet that this will eventually turn out to be bad news for the Europeans, one way or another.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 6, 2009

  69. “This appears, roughly, to be a pledge of about 2.2 billion barrels of oil, over the next 20 years, in exchange for $25 billion now.”Ask yourself — Who has the money today, once the deal has been done? Who has to hope that future Russian gov'ts will honor the deal for the next 25 years? Both Russia & China are playing deep long-term games — much deeper than anything the Obaminoids can hope to understand, let alone change. But it is a fairly safe bet that this will eventually turn out to be bad news for the Europeans, one way or another.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 6, 2009

  70. “Europe has two EGS plants feeding the grid already.”

    Cite, please.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 6, 2009

  71. “Europe has two EGS plants feeding the grid already.”Cite, please.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | March 6, 2009

  72. If the actual cost of algae based biodiesel is so high ,why are so many big money companies putting money into it. Also, what about hydrogen production by from algae

    Comment by scott | March 18, 2009

  73. If the actual cost of algae based biodiesel is so high ,why are so many big money companies putting money into it. Also, what about hydrogen production by from algae

    Comment by scott | March 18, 2009

  74. If the actual cost of algae based biodiesel is so high ,why are so many big money companies putting money into it. Also, what about hydrogen production by from algae

    Comment by scott | March 18, 2009

  75. If the actual cost of algae based biodiesel is so high ,why are so many big money companies putting money into it.

    Same reason people invested in CWT or Xethanol: They believed the hype.

    Also, what about hydrogen production by from algae

    Have heard positive reports, but don’t know enough to really critique it.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | March 20, 2009

  76. If the actual cost of algae based biodiesel is so high ,why are so many big money companies putting money into it.

    Same reason people invested in CWT or Xethanol: They believed the hype.

    Also, what about hydrogen production by from algae

    Have heard positive reports, but don’t know enough to really critique it.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | March 20, 2009

  77. If the actual cost of algae based biodiesel is so high ,why are so many big money companies putting money into it.Same reason people invested in CWT or Xethanol: They believed the hype.Also, what about hydrogen production by from algaeHave heard positive reports, but don’t know enough to really critique it.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | March 20, 2009

  78. So, in other words, the Solix algae biodiesel tech is perfect for low water area power plant co-generation applications, where the energy and carbon inputs are free waste products from power generation at the plants. Make that $0/gallon marginal cost? Western coal and natural gas power plants, anyone?

    Comment by Can read. | March 25, 2009

  79. Actually even if we’re talking about $50 a gallon it’s NOT far out there.
    Consider this:
    If we convert the entire US fleet to diesel we get about a doubling in fuel efficiency.
    If we then convert the entire fleet to plug in hybrids we get (at least) another doubling in fuel efficiency.
    At $50 a gallon that gives us an equivalent price in today’s dollars of $12.50 a gallon.
    Painful sure, but Europeans are paying north of $8 a gallon.
    Could the economy handle it?
    Sure it could.

    Comment by db | August 5, 2009

  80. Hi RR,

    what to think about the Originoil technology they refer to as quantum fracturing ? They also claim to have found a way to “milk” algae by electric fields. the present it as a magic bullet, using electric fields to partially remove lipid content from living algae. It’s the equivalent of algae jumping out of the water and shake off the oil… to good to be true…
    However, it seems harder to shoot holes in their approach at these points, I have a hard time searching literature about electroporation and electrodistention to sort out the principle of their so called quantumfracturing or milking approaches…

    any thoughts here ?is it the next greenfuel?

    Art

    Comment by art | September 8, 2009


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