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Robert Winner

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Algae to crude oil in one hour.

Not my field of expertise but this sounds really promising.

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/algae-converted-crude-oil-less-hour-energy-department-says-2D11762083

How would this change the world .... economically .... politically .... environmentally ....

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  • Jan 18 2014: Bio-diesel derived from algae is indeed a promising replacement for oil derived from crude. The fuel is a drop-in replacement for diesel and jet fuel, meaning little or no modifications to delivery methods and user's engines.

    Peak oil is a real issue on the horizon for society to contend with, and fracking is only a temporary solution since such wells display quick production rate drop-offs. Fossil oil will not disappear, but it will become harder to find and obtain. A replacement will be needed as fossil fuel becomes more expensive. Algae is perfect.

    Algae does not compete with food crops or with agricultural lands. Algae can be grown in saltwater, which means algae could not compete for freshwater supplies.

    Algae grown for lipids would also produce byproducts that can be used for food, fertilizer, fish feed, animal feed, medicines, and lipids are hydrocarbon so many artificial materials can be made.

    Algae consumes carbon dioxide, so it could possibly reduce the global carbon that has been released during the industrial revolution. Burning bio-diesel releases carbon, but its "recycled" within the same year by growing algae. This compares to crude oil that was created by ancient algae over billions of years and then released over the last hundred and forty years.

    Countries could control their own fuel in an algae based economy. This would have wide ranging positive benefits, such as no longer being dependent on middle eastern dictatorships.

    At this point, bio-fuel from algae is more expensive then fossil fuel alternatives. More research is required and is happening in just about every advanced country.
  • Dec 28 2013: the concept looks interesting, but i dont think this particular process is viable longterm or scaleable, seems to read more like a funding hook than a real term solution

    what i would like to see is a return to the mentioned lipids based algae growth but utlising waste material as the "feed stock" an algae that could be grown using ground vulcanised rubber as the feedstock would go a long way to both fueling the planet and also cleaning it
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    Dec 25 2013: We have to much oil already... what I want to see is oil to algae in fifteen seconds!
  • Dec 23 2013: The process sounds like the same process I saw in the late 60's early 70's. The problem was the yield was low. The key back then was to find or create algae that would produce more crude and with less energy used in the production. Note we now can produce diamonds with lower pressure and temperature than found in nature.

    What is the yield factor? and for those who ask there are many uses for petroleum other than energy.
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    Dec 21 2013: In principal the technique is sound (although I'm doubtful about the 1 hour claim). Questions remain about cost (is it cost efficient ?) and scale up ( can it be produced in sufficiently large amounts to make an impact ?)
  • Dec 20 2013: It has already been noted that the USA is pulling back from engagement in the Middle East due to our new-returned status of major oil producing nation. This would make the Middle East completely disposable in the political and economical arenas. "But we'll cut off your oil!" "Screw you! We'll grow our own." The politics of that region will become more involved with power and doctrine issues. Likewise, it will shift power away from other oil producers, like Venezuela and Russia. In short, countries traditionally hostile to the USA will find themselves with less international influence.
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    Dec 20 2013: one does not need to even read the article to be 90% convinced: "energy department says" should be enough to dismiss it. but okay, let us go further.

    how honest is saying "from algae to oil in one hour"? i can produce a release version of my software out of a source code in approx 5 minutes. does that make my software economical? it took years to develop the source code. maybe we need to consider that too. how much it takes to go from nothing to algae? one hour is cool, and how much energy? how expensive equipment? at what rate of output?

    as an engineer, i can tell you that if you show up, and ask for my money to implement a device that needs 200 atmosphere pressure, 350C temperature for an hour, and you plan to make billions of liters of product in this equipment, i kick you out in an instant. especially with electric cars on the horizon.

    what a joke.
    • Dec 20 2013: That electricity will have to be produced. Hydrocarbon fuel sources are the best bet for the USA.
  • Dec 20 2013: Its got a lot of potential. It doesn't even compromise your food supply like a normal biofuel.

    The biggest issue is the same as its always been however. It needs to be cost competitive, and that means at least as cheap as regular, drilled out of the ground oil. Either the process is improved upon until that happens, or oil eventually gets expensive enough on its own.
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      Dec 20 2013: As there are already plants that can develop fuel from algae ... the next step is to develop crude .... I was a young person in the military when the computer age took off. The computer was the size of a large room and we submitted cards to be read and printed off. Now you can hold ten time that power in your hand at a reasonable cost.

      The combination of "made" fuel and earth resources should ease the demand and further development should continue to drive costs down. In combination with alternate fuel cars and electrical cars ... again demand goes down ... there is also water conversion cars .... the list goes on.

      Is this "THE" answer. My crystal ball is broken ... I do not know. But in the mean time I am willing to wait and see ... and hope that they are right ... and availability and costs continue to drop prices.

      Thanks for the reply.

      I wish you well. Bob.