Green Light: Advances in Algae for March 20
Thanks to the U.S. Navy, President Obama, and a few big ol’ jet airliners, algae is currently the cause celebre in the fuel industry these days.
That was never more obvious than last week in Holland — when the World Biofuels Markets Congress and Exhibition 2012, Europe’s largest such show focused on biofuels, took centre stage for three days at Rotterdam.
Regarded as one of the most promising feedstocks for advanced biofuels, thanks to its high oil yield and its rapid growth rate, algae was put under the microscope — as harvesting and dewatering techniques, as well as scalability potential, were debated before an estimated audience of 1,500 delegates and industry experts.
“Everyone from U.S. President Obama, to leading scientists, to investors around the world are talking about algae, so our stream focusing on the latest issues in the industry is timely for our attendees,” Claire Poole, event director for World Biofuels Markets, had said prior to the event. “With the development of pilot and demonstration projects, all the promise of algae is starting to become reality and we look forward to exploring timelines and existing hurdles the industry is addressing.”
The little carbon dioxide-gulping, oil-excreting wonders took centre stage on Day 3, when entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists spoke at length about algae bioreactors, waste-to-fuel technology, and the use of seaweed, or macroalgae, for fuels and chemicals.
The March 15 sessions “included fascinating presentations and thoughtful questions on advanced biofuels made from algae and waste products that are real and coming online,” said Poole.
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Our industrious Green Light research crew recently brought you the news of the EnAlgae project, an $18.2-million US collaboration involving 19 partners from eight European Union member states that aims to turn macroalgae into renewable fuel, and reduce European CO2 emissions at the same time.
The venerable Irish Times has weighed in with a long piece on the project, with one interviewee offering a thought-provoking opinion on the project.
Some experts feel seaweed-to-biofuel will fail for the same reason other biofuels have failed — an impractical, negative-energy input. But Dr. Maeve Edwards of the National University of Ireland, Galway points out that there are countless other reasons to continue the research.
“The marine environment in general is now seen in the same way the rainforest was 20 years ago – a frontier yet to be explored for potentially bioactive compounds,” Edwards tells the Irish Times. “There could be so many potential medicinal products found by studying marine plants and algae. Seaweed is accessible and can be cultivated. We already know some of its uses, but with further study we could learn just how valuable it potentially is.”
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Boeing was established in Seattle back in 1916. Alaska Airlines itself is headquartered in the Emerald City.
See a pattern? The politicians do. Thanks to the presence of Boeing, Alaska Airlines, and research labs across Washington State, politicians are pushing to have the U.S. Pacific Northwest become a hub for the aviation biofuels industry, reports the Seattle Times.
Just last week, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that would allow private aviation biofuels factories based in Washington access to financing through lower-interest revenue bonds. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is urging the Federal Aviation Administration to establish an aviation biofuel research HQ in the Tri-Cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland.
Algae is one of the most obvious biomass feedstocks that would fuel any such project, and the airline industry is ready to welcome biofuels — not only for environmental reasons, but also to safeguard against price spikes in prices for conventional jet fuel.
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Finally, algae is just a few steps from the runway . . . no, the other runway.
Fashion designer Nicole Miller, who’s already made a splash in the beauty industry with fragrances and cosmetics, has now launched a line of skin-care products.
The eye cream, Eye Wear, uses algae extract to retain moisture and “keep under-eye area hydrated and firm.”
By: administrator On Tuesday, 20 March 2012 Views(589)