'Green Oil' by 2020? UK invests in algae biodiesel

October 24 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: 2020   Rating: 6 Hot

Could carbon-eating algae change how we produce liquid fuels by 2020? Can we ‘grow’ energy rather than pull it out of the ground? A British energy R&D firm believes the answer is yes.

UK-based Carbon Trust, which works to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, has launched the Algae Biofuels Challenge with an ambitious mission: to commercialize the use of algae biofuel as an alternative to fossil based oil by 2020.

Carbon Trust’s multi-million pound investment will be led through its Advanced Bioenergy Accelerator and focused on microalgae that can be cultivated and manipulated to produce high yields of oil using carbon-rich feedstocks.

This effort is another signal that the long-term future of bioenergy is more likely to tap the power of microbes (algae/bacteria) rather than plant based resources like corn, soy and palm oil.

Carbon Trust’s initial forecasts suggest that algae-based biofuels could replace over 70 billion litres of fossil derived fuels used worldwide annually in road transport and aviation by 2030 (equivalent to 12% of annual global jet fuel consumption or 6% of road transport diesel). This would equate to an annual carbon saving of over 160 million tonnes of CO2 globally and a market value of over £15 billion.

Algae fuels? A Future inspired by the Past
The Industrial Revolution has been based on capturing energy released from breaking chemical bonds of carbon and hydrogen. We blew up coal’s chemical bonds to for steam engines, then gasoline inside internal combustion engines and repurposed coal for large centralized electric power plants. Now the 21st century could be partly shaped by closing that carbon-hydrogen loop using molecular systems within biology?

Ironically this future vision of energy is inspired by the past! Coal is ancient biomass- likely ferns. And oil is likely ancient microbes that lived in shallow oceans. Both are made of complex chains of hydrogen and carbon assembled by Mother Nature’s molecular machines of algae and bacteria. As long as chemical bonds drive the economy, we need to figure out a way to keep carbon in the energy loop by binding it with hydrogen, not oxygen. This UK algae challenge is an important step in closing that cycle in the 21st Century.

Image by Memebox LLC The Energy Roadmap.com

Continue Reading

Earth 2100 Game Imagines "Perfect Storm" Catastrophe Scenario

December 31 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2015   Rating: 4 Hot

I wouldn't have predicted ABC News going all bleak futurist, but they did.  Earth 2100 is a massive online roleplaying game that starts out with global turmoil and devastation.  And they're going prime time with it.Earth2100

The project is pretty ambitious, but considering the recent popularity of games like Superstruct and Second Life, there should be no doubt that participation will be high.  To participate you need to record a short fictional video depicting something in 2015, then, based on those submissions, the ABC News people will design a scenario for 2050, then 2070 and finally 2100.

Continue Reading

New "Algae 2020" Study forecasts commercialization path for algae biofuels

December 05 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2020   Rating: 3

Algae 2020A new industry study by Emerging Markets Online describes a turning point for the algae derived biofuels sector as it enters the first stage of commercial development. 

So let's hold back on the 'hype' and take a solid look at how algae biofuels might evolve in the years ahead!

The forthcoming "Algae 2020" [PDF] study measures over $300 million (€233 million) in algae investments through November 2008 "including projects, initiatives and participation from Bill Gates, The Rockefellers,  DoE, BP, Chevron and the UK’s Carbon Trust."

The report notes significant trends related to public-private investments, growing investments in private startups, and engineering efforts related to the first wave of pilot and commercial facilities.

The study includes detailed analysis on: algae production methods, species selection, algae biofuel applications, CO2 selection methods, as well as updates on technical aspects of algae harvesting and extraction.

Algae 2020 Study Overview [PDF]

Related algae posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

Continue Reading

Hawaii takes a big (regulatory) step towards 21st Century Electric Web

October 22 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: 2009   Rating: 1

The future of Hawai’i will likely be shaped by its new vision of an energy web based on clean abundant resources.

Hawaii’s Vision starts with Regulatory Changes
On Monday, Governor Linda Lingle announced a comprehensive agreement to move the state away from its dependence on fossil fuels for electricity and ground transportation. The plan includes underwater electrical transmission wires across islands to tap more than 400 MW of wind power on neighbor islands of Honolulu,Oahu. The island grid could eventually tap other resources based on wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy (e.g. Jatropha and algae-based biodiesel).

There are few places on Earth that have as much pressing need (and desire) to become more reliant on local energy resources- than Hawaii. Now its political and economic development leaders have taken a very bold step forward in changing the regulatory framework of its local utility HECO to put the state on track for having 70 percent of its energy use come from clean energy sources by 2030. While state leaders are promoting the rhetoric of ‘energy independence’, the state might actually be enabling a future of cheap, clean abundant energy. And if local startups like Sopogy and Hoku Scientific succeed the state might become more integrated into global energy sector as they export energy systems around the world.

Recipe for growing renewables?
Change role of utilities, and focus on low cost renewables

Hawaii’s leaders understand that the key to expanding renewable energy resources is dependent on changing regulations that govern utility power generation. This means tackling ‘Big Grid’, not ‘Big Oil’. Leaders are rethinking the role of utilities beyond power generation in a world shaped by a ‘smart energy web’ shaped by the potent combination of software, sensors and storage.

Hawaii is now taking clear steps to end the era of a one way electricity grid in favor of a more integrated web based on distributed power generation and storage system. And HECO must explore new future roles as a 21st century utility.

The state appears ready to move beyond the era of liquid fuels and the combustion engine, as it prepares to reinvent its electricity grid to support batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors for electric vehicles. [Read: Startup planning to build out Hawaii’s electric vehicle infrastructure]

Continue with a detailed look at plan

Continue Reading

[6 Videos] Everything you need to know about Algae biofuels startups and research

December 09 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2018   Rating: 1

Seeing a Future Beyond the Hype for Algae Bioenergy
'Algae' is often referred to as a 'Next Big Thing' category technology by cleantech investors and bio-industrialists.  But I've found that most people have no real understanding of what algae 'is' or 'isn't' as a new energy solution.

I've posted six videos that should give that quick overview.  Some videos contain statements that I find to be short-sighted or overly focused on near-term challenges.    But overall, they describe the potential of algae bioenergy solutions in a very accessible way.  Enjoy!

Why algae?
[Editor's note: Great video lecture via Twitter AlgaMan, Thanks!!!]

- Algae are 'original oil producers' on Earth (Video #1) - petroleum  is the result of ancient sea-living microbes that arranged carbon and hydrogen into complex chains that we blow up for energy.

- Algae grow quickly using carbon dioxide (via gas, or biomass waste), light and water as their fuel source. (Video #3)  Their byproduct? High energy content hydro-carbon chains.

- Algae produce tremendous yields (Est 10,000-30,000 gallons/acre/year), compared to plant based biofuels (Corn at 20/year; Palm at 800) (Video #4)

Video #1 - MIT's Algae biophotoreactor
Scientific America produced show with Alan Alda. The program was focused on hydrogen (e.g. electricity) with a special segment on algae-to-hydrogen production.

 

 

Video #2 - Solayzme

Continue Reading