...what the energy-balance equation for this process looks like:According to Mr. Kertz, an acre of corn (Archer Daniels Midland's favorite crop!) will produce 18 gallons of corn oil per year. An acre of oil palms can produce 700-800 gallons of palm oil per year. In an open pond, algae will produce "up to 20,000 gallons" per acre per year - of whatever oil the algae is designed to produce. With this process? He doesn't say.
Still, the algae has to be fed, it has to be pumped, the oil has to be processed, and the total energy out cannot be more than the total energy in, though the majority of the energy comes from photosynthesis - which (as I understand it) is MUCH more efficient than the best solar cell made.
This sounds interesting. I wonder if it can be adapted to use with bacteria? Biofuel technology seems to be the current rage. According to The Arizona Republic, Arizona State University researchers are studying a cyanobacteria that eats the exhaust of electric generating stations and produces crude oil. ON top of that:
XL Renewables Inc., which has a Casa Grande development center where officials hope to open a 40-acre algae production site in November. The company also offers algae-growing systems for sale.All of this looks interesting, but I imagine that none of it is economically viable if the price of crude drops much below $80 per barrel. We still need oil, and we will for at least the rest of my projected lifetime.
Scottsdale-based PetroSun Inc., a gas- and oil-drilling company, announced in February that it formed a joint venture with Gilbert-based Optimum Biofuels to build an algae biorefinery near Coolidge. PetroSun, a publicly traded penny stock, also has announced plans to open similar plants in Louisiana, Texas, Mexico and Central America.
Amereco Biofuels Corp., which has a small biodiesel project in the far West Valley using recycled restaurant cooking oil, is researching various strains of algae for biodiesel.
Like I said below, we'd best get to drilling.