Algae Biodiesel is Popular Science

John Davis

There’s been some recent talk about turning algae into biodiesel… enough to catch the attention of the magazine Popular Science.

This article highlights an operation in Colorado with some great pictures, graphics, and even video of the process:

jimsears1.JPGAlgae seems a strange contender for the mantle of World’s Next Great Fuel, but the green goop has several qualities in its favor. Algae, made up of simple aquatic organisms that capture light energy through photosynthesis, produces vegetable oil. Vegetable oil, in turn, can be transformed into biodiesel, which can be used to power just about any diesel engine. (There are currently 13 million of them on American roads, a number that’s expected to jump over the next decade.)

Algae has some important advantages over other oil-producing crops, like canola and soybeans. It can be grown in almost any enclosed space, it multiplies like gangbusters, and it requires very few inputs to flourish—mainly just sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. “Because algae has a high surface-area-to-volume ratio, it can absorb nutrients very quickly,” (Solix Biofuels founder Jim) Sears says. “Its small size is what makes it mighty.”