What Can't One Make Bio-Fuel Out Of?

A Forest of Fuel: Coming soon, to your gas tank!
A Forest of Fuel: Coming soon, to your gas tank!Courtesy Stef Maruch

Move over, old, lame bio-fuels!

Algae! The wondrous plants that can grow easily in controlled conditions and whose needs are very basic for rapid growth is now being tested for use in bio-fuels. ExxonMobil, looking to expand and diversify their alternative fuel options will team up with Venter's Synthetic Genomics Inc. to conduct research on different types of algae to test their effectiveness as biofuels.

The so-called "first generation" bio-fuels caused problems globally when the price of corn (for corn ethanol) sky rocketed when it was being used for food and fuel . Though a small percent of corn (or other) ethanol is added to gasoline, it still has a huge effect on the market, and is therefore not the best long term solution to eliminating our addiction to oil.

The Future?: Someday...someday. Let's keep 'em crossed for a day when all houses are like this!
The Future?: Someday...someday. Let's keep 'em crossed for a day when all houses are like this!Courtesy Bjorn Appel

Many view bio-fuels as only a transitionary solution to the oil problem, hoping that a sustainable energy type (like solar or wind) may soon be widely available. Algae if successful as a bio fuel, it may be used for a longer period than the "first-generation" bio fuels because of how fast it can grow and how easy it can be to care for. It also isn't used for much else, not like corn anyway. Engineers are hoping to develop artificial environments for algae to grow in knowing that this is the only way to produce enough of the green slime to sustain our needs.

It is encouraging, in some ways, that a big business like ExxonMobil is getting involved because research will not be short funded. If there is a will, there is some green slime that can't wait to get in your car!

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Is this something where they're engineering algae to poop diesel, or are they breaking the biomass down like in ethanol production?

Or is Exxon interested in all of it?

(That's right. "Poop diesel.")

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 4:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think they should engineer humans to poop out "bio-fuels" because then they could get a pretty large supply everyday! and humans could finally personally contribute to powering their own transportation!

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 8:46pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Oh, we're way ahead of you.
Check it out.
And this.
And maybe this.

posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 8:52am
stephanowicz's picture

I think the current idea is to use algae to create an ethanol type fuel. Though I am definitly intrigued by the idea of "poop diesel"... I hope it is in the future.

posted on Mon, 07/27/2009 - 9:16pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I suppose that was poorly put, wasn't it? This article uses the less colorful phrase, "sweat diesel."

Anyway, yeah, I guess there are some types of algae that excrete what is essentially crude oil, given enough sunlight and CO2. I thought that maybe somebody wrote about it on Buzz already, but I couldn't find it. If they did, they (sadly) did not employ the phrase "poop diesel."

posted on Tue, 07/28/2009 - 9:18am

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