Creating BioFuel is far from being a new idea, but most people might still think that the only serious players are Big Oil conglomerates, specialty Producers, or expensive research facilities, when the truth is far simpler. The uncertainty of Geo-Politics, Wars, and World Trade has unsettled most people views on trusting the future of Energy and the Environment to big Corporate interests, and short-sighted Politicians.
We need look no further than the growing DIY approach to food, energy, and even transportation which is reminding us all that it wasn’t so long ago that people grew their own fuel and food, and even used wind and water to power their lives without relying on global trade to do so. In Modern Age though, we’re not talking about inventing time machines, to roll the calander back, or cutting down forests, and re-cultivating lost sub-urban farms. We’re talking about about applying free-market production of small scale BioFuels to make local economies work better in the long run.
First of all let’s be clear…Nobody’s suggesting that you buy a Dodge Charger, tweak the timing to burn Ethanol, and then head up into the hills to run your own ‘moonshine’ distillery…Because as fun as that might be on the weekends, the Feds might take exception to your unlicensed methods, and will at least require you to denature your ‘shine with just enough petrol to make it undrinkable anyways…and then from there you’d be just another Ethanol Distiller trying to keep up with taxes and compete with the price of gasoline, all while hoping that the artificial Ethanol subsidies don’t dry up, before you do. Who wants to compete with Industrial Corn Farmin anyways!
What we’d like to a closer look at instead, is one of the oldest sources of hydrocarbons on Earth, via one of the simplest lifeforms that ever existed. Algae sourced BioFuels…and all of it’s many beneficial byproducts!
So Why Algae BioFuels, and Why Now?
The truth is that many small independent entrepreneurs have already gotten quite excited about the basic simplicity of biofuel from algae, are already taking the American free enterprising spirit , and applying it to this energy solution, in ways that doesn’t need to displace food crops for fuel. Right now the only people actually making any money are those who have compiled the research and information, and are selling this know-how to others who are eager to at least learn more about this. But that’s just the start of the ingenuity…
To make fuel from algae, there’s no need to secure mineral and drilling rights, driving pipe down through rock, heating and pumping, and all the complex refining….There’s just encouraging the growth of algae in water (which any pool owner will tell you is WAY too easy), separating the biomass, pressing it for oil, and then simple processing for use as bio-diesel fuel. Then there are uses for it’s edible byproducts as well….Which we’ll get to later.
The growing process get’s even more exciting if you consider the possibility that you might get paid to use up someone elses CO2 someday in the process of gettign higher yields, and the fact that there are breeds of algea that will even produce hydrogen and methane if you can collectively ramp up to that level.
For now though, we’re talking about a product that you can run a diesel engine on, and which would certainly keep a local economy humming so long as the sun doesn’t explode and dissapear!
Here’s where we can also look back at Rudolf Diesel’s vision for a free society that was unchained from the powerfull social control structures of Coal, Oil, and Steam Powered Industry…
Read more about how Diesel could still power the Future!
The challenges with using algae to produce diesel fuel is that even though good breeds of algae can be grown and ready for harvest in 2 days flat, the entire organism has to be killed and processed to derive the fuel. So, the entire crop has to keep constantly restocking itself in a closed system which makes the entire operation very process intensive, unless the algae breedign is optimized for both yield and reproduction.
The Internet To the Rescue!
Unfortunately the breeds of algea that do well in open systems (like ponds) don’t yield as much energy. So the first challenge is to find a natural balance of species for the greatest yield…This is where the promises of a free and open Internet offer the small entrepreneur the ability to compete with Big Oil…For now even Google can help us build a shared knowledge base,
There’s also the concern that the more specialised species would be contaminated by natural algae in the open system designs (ie ponds), even though such open designs would be MUCH more cost effective. So this points to a fundamental rift in the research between breedign super-algae in expensive closed systems, or developing the cheaper means to offer open pond systems (growing multiple-species) across a much wider market for independant growers and processors.
Also Algae needs to be seperated from it’s growing medium (ie. water) before it can be processed, and this can mean removing as much as 1000 parts of water for every part of algae.
Yet it’s encouraging to see people like Originoil Inc working on a proprietary process that can seperate oils from algae while it’s still in its growth solution!
The ultimate question of course, is how long will it take to drive costs down to the point where they can compete with fossil fuels…Ironically enough, within this paradox, we might see yet another solution comign to the rescue by actually combining these forces in a cooperative manner…
Gallons of Oil