Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pond scum and our energy future

In the late 90s, the DOE's Aquatic Species Program closed out with a report saying that, despite all the promise of biodiesel from algae farming, diesel prices would have to at least double to make it commercially appealing.

Diesel prices have almost tripled since that time.

Algae farming, I love it. You can make methane, ethanol, diesel, maybe even cattle feed. You can grow algae in brackish water, so it's a great use for all those fields gone dead from salination. You can pump CO2 into the water from coal-burning effluent and increase the yield. The photosynthesis yield per acre of land useless for farming, pasture or woodland would be high. But we're not using algae to make biodiesel, an in the meantime, the surging demand for biodiesel is causing more rainforest to be cleared for sugar cane, palm oil, soy. What sense does this make? Still, I think it's coming, and we'll thank Jimmy Carter for investing in pond scum.


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