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Power Transportation Science

Algal Biofuels Not Ready For Scale-Up 179

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 dmbasso ( 1052166 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:02PM (#41779969)

    Drugs are bad, mmmmkay? We are in War on Drugs (tm), so that's really really bad, mmmkay?

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:18PM (#41780215) Journal

    The report ignores the energy input of the sunlight. It may be economically sensible to ignore that, but on a thermodynamic level it's stupid.

    So, let me get this straight. You are looking for a process that produces more energy than it requires in inputs. And you are citing thermodynamics?

  • Re:English (Score:5, Funny)

    by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:50PM (#41780581) Journal

    I have rewritten the summary using simpler English for the benefit of the weak-minded. A few sacrifices in content were made.

    "Using the tech that we have today, we cannot use algae (little green sea creatures) to make our fuel (for cars) because it would be bad for the Earth. Eggheads at National Research Council wrote a report that says so, using all sorts of sciencey terms. It takes more fuel to raise the little green sea creatures than it gives back in the fuel. It also needs lots of water and nitrogen (that's a chemical in bombs) and phosphorus (that's another chemical in bombs). We need to give the little green sea creatures 3 or more times as much water as we can get fuel from them. If we use all the nitrogen and phosphorus we make in the USA, it's only enough to make fuel for one tenth the cars we have."

Friction is a drag.