Creating Bio-Fuels from Algae

March 4th, 2008

In my travels I meet a lot of students who are keenly interested in science based programs. Our much heralded Conservation Biology and Ecological Engineering Programs seem to fit the bill quite nicely for these folks. I often get the question: What do the folks in those departments do? Well, I stumbled across this fascinating article from discussing the work of Ecological Engineering Prof Ganti Murthy.

From Oregon Researchers Processing Bio-Fuels From Algae:

(CORVALLIS, Ore. ) – Researchers at Oregon State University are working to find an efficient method of processing bio-diesel fuel and ethanol from one of the world’s most plentiful organisms – algae – which could lead to breakthroughs in reducing the world’s dependency on petroleum.

Applying the findings to mass-produce algae and extract its oils could be five to 10 years in the future, but the advantages are worth the wait, according to Ganti Murthy, assistant professor of biological and ecological engineering at OSU.

Algae are versatile organisms that are “plant-like” but do not have a root system or leaves. Plants pull water and nutrients through their roots and release vapor through their leaves in a process called transpiration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an acre of corn transpires about 4,000 gallons of water a day. Because algae do not have such a vascular system, they use water only as a medium for growing.

While the fruition of this labor may be some years in coming, this is important work. Especially in lieu of recent discussions coming from researchers in OSU’s AREC department regarding the fact that, on the net, biofuels are less efficient than fossil fuels because of the effort and resources needed to produce enough corn for production.

Biofuels being produced from algae

Keep the discussion about Biofuels and sustainability going! Comment away!


4 responses to “Creating Bio-Fuels from Algae”

  1. Goji Juice says:

    I think it is great that they are working on things like this so we can try to reduce or eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce our green house gas emissions. I wonder if they have found out what type of emissions if any that algae would produce.

  2. Marc says:

    even if bio fuels are less efficient than fossil fuels they still cause much less damage to the environment.

    I happily applaud the researchers at Oregon State University for perusing such an endeavor. We are trying to play catch-up now because the past several years were wasted….

  3. The state should finance more on bio-fuels, so we can eliminate our dependence on Middle East oil. I think it is paramount that we seriously start exploring other energy sources, so our children don’t suffer.

  4. Buy Goji says:

    Obviously multinationals need to see the potential profit in bio fuels for them to jump on board. They just need a paradigm shift…

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