Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In The News: Vegetable Oil and Biodiesel from Algae

I've seen speculation along these lines several times in the past, but it looks like researchers at MIT are looking more seriously at algae-produced vegetable oil for use as a fuel (either straight or refined into biodiesel).

Here's the deal: the best crop for producing vegetable oil is palm (palm and palm kernel oil) which produces about 600 gallons per acre per year, not too shabby, right?

Well, algae is a weed, and grows anywhere there is water, CO2, sunlight, and it grows extremely quickly. It grows so quickly that researchers estimate that they could produce as much as 10,000 to 20,000 gallons of oil per acre per year.

If true, this would pretty much blow any arguments that vegetable oil is not a viable source of fuel out the window.


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