Making Biodiesel From Petroleum’s Waste Water

John Davis

Researchers in New Mexico have found a good use for the millions of gallons of briney waste water produced from refining petroleum, which also keeps the mess from being injected back into the ground.
This story from Biodiesel Magazine
says the Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management (CEHMM) in Carlsbad has found that the waste water is perfect for growing oil-producing algae… which in turn, can be turned into biodiesel:

CEHMM told Biodiesel Magazine that it has indentified a wild, salt-water strain of algae suited for growth in the extremely “brine-laden” subterranean waters found in southeastern New Mexico. “We’ve discovered that we can mimic the characteristics of these waters in our ponds where we are growing algae,” he said. CEHMM has nevertheless been able to manipulate the water to create prime cultivation conditions, and, without using genetic technologies, enhanced the oil-making performance of the algae shortly before the material is harvested. Lynn, however, could not divulge the technique being developed as a trade secret and said only that it involves indentifying the “triggers” which are conducive to increased oil expression in the algae strain. These oils “show incredible purity and viability” for biodiesel refining, CEHMM stated.

The article also points out that using this waste water takes the issue of using water to make biofuels off the table.