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Power Transportation Science

Algal Biofuels Not Ready For Scale-Up 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.
Tator Tot writes with this quote from Chemical & Engineering News: "Using today's technologies and knowledge, a scale-up of fledgling algal biofuel production sufficient to meet even 5% of U.S. transportation fuel demand is unsustainable, says a report released last week by the National Research Council. The report examines the efficiency of producing biofuels from microalgae and cyanobacteria with respect to energy, water, and nutrient requirements and finds that the process falls short. The energy from algal biofuel, the report finds, is less than the energy needed to make it. In terms of water, at least 32.5 billion gal would be needed to produce 10 billion gal of algae-based biofuels, the report states. The study also finds that making enough algal biofuels to replace just 5% of U.S. annual transportation fuel needs would require 44–107% of the total nitrogen and 20–51% of the total phosphorus consumed annually in the U.S."
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Algal Biofuels Not Ready For Scale-Up

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  • by bigtrike (904535) on Friday October 26, 2012 @12:26PM (#41779499)

    Ethanol from corn requires more energy than it produces, but due to subsidies it makes money for some politically connected businesses.

  • from the summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Friday October 26, 2012 @12:43PM (#41779747)
    >The energy from algal biofuel, the report finds, is less than the energy needed to make it.

    Yet another failed attempt at perpetual energy! Why oh why does the laws of physics mock us so?

    All joking aside, for most applications, we don't mind energy loss. The key is getting the energy into a compact and transportable form usable in cars.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday October 26, 2012 @12:45PM (#41779769) Homepage

    Lets try to find something else renewable that will work.

    It frightens me that this is the level of intellectual clarity the majority of America brings to big problems.

    The report said it would not work for more than 5 percent of transportation fuels at the current state of the technology, not that it wasn't a viable alternative if some of the technological challenges can be addressed.

    That's what this bit means: However, the potential to shift this dynamic through improvements in biological and engineering variables exists.

    Maybe you should stick to problems that can be solved by banging rocks together.

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