Algae Can Play Significant Role in Oil Production and Reclamation for Use in Bio Fuels
Posted Jul 07 2010 8:00am
I have followed with keen interest for years the rapid pace of advancement of
engineered algae within the context of oil production and reclamation. Indeed,
it was more than 20 years ago, after a major oceanic oil spill, that I learned
that types of algae can be deployed on the surface of the open seas which quite
happily eats the oil and leaves behind a benign byproduct which degrades
harmlessly in salt water.
Beginning about 5 years ago, I learned of the promise of algae as a source of
petroleum from various sources, including agricultural waste and urban
effluence. Now, in the wake of the worst environmental disaster in America’s
history, all of the aforementioned interests can be unified.
My friend Dave Hoffman of Oregon has provided me with exciting calculations
of how algae can be deployed to the seas to solve our most pressing problem.
Arguably the best news is that the algae can do its work right on the surface of
our bodies of water.
To replace America’s domestic production of petroleum, we would need 15,000
square miles of surface area upon which harmful substances could be converted to
petroleum or chemical precursors thereof, producing few if any harmful effects
in the process. Granted, such a vast area would cover almost all navigable
coastal waters of the United States but the statistic nonetheless provides
encouraging insight into just how relatively minor a project it would be to
clean the Gulf of Mexico and simultaneously begin a pilot project for harnessing
energy stores along the surface of our waters rather than dangerously beneath
Algae for bio fuels and oil production or reclamation is an idea whose time
has come and I urge every government of the world to embrace it zealously.