The Biodiesel Solution: Algae and Grease
In the previous article, Some Upcoming Electric Vehicles, I discussed and showed vehicles that were part of the new generation of electric cars – and folding electric bicycles – out in the marketplace.
But electric cars are only one solution for our need to get off the oil addiction, in order to move to a more sustainable society and world.
The mantra of “Drill, Baby, Drill,” spouted so often by those who think we can offshore drill our way to a sustainable future, has shown itself, in the wake of the Gulf Coast environmental disaster, to be the worst possible solution.
One of the best solutions lie in the promise of biofuels, specifically algae and used cooking oil. Biofuels have gotten a bad rap in recent years because ethanol is also a biofuel, and ethanol as a fuel source has a lot of negatives in terms of the damage it does to the environment. Because of that, all biofuels have been lumped together and seen as not being part of the solution.
But there is a big difference. Ethanol cannot be a solution as a fuel source for building a sustainable future, while algae and cooking grease can.
Using cooking oil for your car as a fuel is not that complicated. All you need is a diesel engine that gets retrofitted to be able to run on cooking oil. Then you just find a source for the oil – restaurants are glad to have people take their leftover grease off their hands – and voila, your vehicle is now a biodiesel lean, green, grease machine.
Algae, though, may be the promise of the future. There are a number of companies involved in the production of algae for fuel.
Producing biodiesel from algae has been touted as the most efficient way to make biodiesel fuel. The advantage being that the land requirement for growing the biodiesel is very small.
Algae require neither fresh water nor arable land for cultivation. It is estimated that if all of the fuel in the USA were replaced with algae biofuels, an area no larger than the state of Maryland would be required to produce it – making algae a much more efficient user of land than corn or soy ethanol, for example.
Independent studies have demonstrated that algae is capable of producing 30 times more oil per acre than the current crops now utilized for the production of biofuels, such as corn for ethanol.
Algae biofuel contains no sulfur, is non-toxic and highly biodegradable. Some species of algae are ideally suited to biodiesel production due to their high oil content, in excess of 50%, and extremely rapid growth rates.
In the above video, Josh Tickell, author of the book From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank, and creator of the award-winning documentary, The Fuel Film, discusses using cooking oil and algae for fuel, and shows off his Prius that was retrofitted to run on algae and that he took on a cross-country road trip.
The below video is a trailer from his movie, The Fuel Film.