Algae Back Under The Spotlight

30 03 2009

The Ohio-based company AlgaeVenture Systems announced on March 25, a new development in the production of algae into fuel that would cut the cost by 99 percent.

Algae Venture Systems

Algae Venture Systems

“For nearly 40 years, it has been widely accepted that if the cost of removing, harvesting and dewatering algae could be reduced to $50 a ton, algae could become a significant source of fuel,” said Ross Youngs, CEO of Univenture, parent corporation of AlgaeVenture Systems.

“We have demonstrated a truly disruptive technology that reduces that cost by more than 99 percent – from $875 per ton to $1.92 per ton,” Youngs said. “This breakthrough moves algae back into the spotlight as an economically viable, plentiful source of fuel.”

Advertisements




Italian Slime

30 03 2009

Algae

Algae

The green sludge that has clung to docks, boats and buildings throughout the old city of Venice, Italy is slowly becoming a saving grace instead of a nuisance.

Recently the city of Venice announced a 200 million euro project to build the first algae-fueled power plant.

“The algae will be cultivated in laboratories and put in plastic cylinders where water, carbon dioxide, and sunshine can trigger photosynthesis. The resulting biomass will be treated further to produce a fuel to turn turbines. The carbon dioxide produced in the process will be fed back to the algae, resulting in zero emissions from the plant.”

Algae into Fuel

Algae into Fuel





Stimulus Package To The Rescue

29 03 2009

The Environmental Protection Agency was awarded almost $100 million from the stimulus package to fund environmental programs.

The first project to receive funds was a clean-diesel program run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which was awarded $1.73 million.

cdphe-profile





Size Matters

24 03 2009

The latest car from India’s Tata Motors is worth every penny. In fact, it’s the cheapest car in the world with some models selling at $2,200 a car. The pint-sized Tata Nano also gets outstanding gas mileage, averaging 50 miles per gallon, making it the most fuel efficient car in India.

Tata's Nano

Tata Nano

However, despite the obvious benefit of conserving gasoline, some criticize how easily it can be mass produced and worry that Nanos will only add to India’s traffic problem, even going as far as predicting a “disproportionate impact on greenhouse gas emissions.” Also the vehicle “has minimal exhaust filters and an engine that can burn kerosene, which is even dirtier than gas.”





Making Biofuels More Practical

24 03 2009
Switchgrass

Switchgrass

The basic argument against biofuels is that food sources like corn and wheat should not be used to make fuel. The substitutes for these crops are plants such as switchgrass and miscanthus, but these grasses take longer to break down than corn kernals, making the fuel production process more costly.

Miscanthus

Miscanthus

BUT, researchers at Cal Tech have synthesized several new enzymes that will break down cellulose plants quicker than the current method, ultimately making the process cheaper.

This is also good news for the Obama administration, which continues to advocate funding for alternative energy policies and research.

At the White House on Monday Obama said, “Speaking to entrepreneurs in the fields of energy…Your country will support you. Your president will support you.’ The administration’s $787 billion stimulus package includes $39 billion for the Department of Energy and $20 billion in tax incentives for clean energy.”

He plans to speak more about the stimulus package in a televised address Tuesday night.





Old News, New Administration

23 03 2009

Not surprisingly, the Environmental Protection Agency sent out a new proposal claiming global warming is a threat to public health and welfare. This same idea was actually rejected in July 2008 by the former EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. Apparently the new administrator, Lisa Jackson, will be taking the EPA in a new direction.

Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

“Frank O’Donnell, who heads the public watchdog group Clean Air Watch said the new proposal, ‘will set the stage for the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution. And it is likely to help light a fire under Congress to get moving.'”

But some businesses are not as optomistic about the new limits, saying pollution caps will further hinder any chances at economic recovery.





Green Is The New Black

18 03 2009

Can an industrialized nation ever actually be green?

This question was spurred by a conversation I had with a friend about the book, “A Language Older Than Words,” by Derrick Jensen. My friend, and Jensen, advocate that nothing beneficial can come from an industrialized nation, in that every aspect of our society is detrimental to nature and all living beings.

So, has any good come from our globalized society? Which products are classified as “harmful to the earth?” For example, lettuce, vegetarians say vegetables are the way to go because animals aren’t dying, but actually such grandiose farms, as modern agriculture has employed, are diminishing the fertility of the soil. Is this “hurting the earth?”

Iceberg Lettuce Field

Iceberg Lettuce Field

Another example, a bicycle. It’s a great alternative to a car, but the metal was mined, which is a process that usually upsets the ecology of the site. Where does one draw the line at being “green?”

Is it possible to live in our society and not damage the land, and do our current “green” practices encourage or hinder this endeavor to save the planet?