We’ve seen an awful lot lately coming out of the newsmedia on Algae biofuel products. Whether it be technologies to react algae into Biodiesel, technologies to grow a better algae, or just companies claiming that they can make Algae at a reasonable price.
While at the 2011 Collective Biofuels Conference, we had a chance to hear from a true Algae research specialist; Jonathan Meuser. Jon’s been working on Algae research at the Colorado School of Mines for several years now. He’s been working with some of the best too! The National Renewable Energy Lab, which is part of the Department of Energy, top notch researchers, and several other academic researchers who are trying their best to make Algae Biodiesel a reality.
Jon’s presentation was truly amazing! The guy knows his stuff and can quickly separate the hype from the reality. The short story? We’re not quite there yet, but we’ve made lots & lots of progress! It’s still not quite economically viable yet, and we still probably have several years to go.
But what about all the hype? Jon said that while there are several companies out there that are making wildly crazy claims about what they can produce with Algae, the truth of the matter is that we’re still looking for the right strains of “super algae” that can produce oil fast enough & economically enough to make creating Biodiesel feasible at an economically viable price.
During his presentation he shared a slide that showed all the different companies he is aware of that are working on Algae and what they’re predicted cost per gallon is right now to produce a gallon of Biodiesel using their technology. It was absolutely fascinating!
Click here to see his presentation: It’s the very last slide.
He also discussed several of the different processing technologies that currently exist to react algae into Biodiesel including pictures & diagrams of how they work. It was amazing to see all the different ways people are thinking of to possibly react the aglae into fuel one day.
Jon also covered just how much oil we would have to produce from Algae to break us free of our oil addiction. The findings were staggering! HINT: Even if you grew feedstock crops clear across the US, you STILL wouldn’t be able to meet US demand for fuel.
So, while Algae still holds a hope in the future, it’s not quite the silver bullet yet. Think of it more like a silver slug in embryo. In other words, we’re getting there, but we still have a long, long way to go.
Want to see what else he said?
Watch his complete presentation below
Link to video
Want to read more about Algae Biodiesel? Check out this great article from Biofuels Digest They titled it, “We of the Never-Never: Gumption and the story of Microalgal ventures” It’s a great read about 3 ventures in the Australian outback that are playing in the algal biofuels area.
Want even more? Check out this presentation given in 2008 by Dr. Al Darzins This is Jon Meuser’s mentor & research professor that he’s working with. See the whole presentation as he presented it below:
Link to video