Biodiesel from algae continues to be all the rage. One company I stumbled across has as much potential as Sapphire Energy, Live Fuels and Green Fuel Technologies in my opinion. Solix is a Biofuel company that descended from U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program started in 1978 to explore ways to produce Biodiesel from algae. Solix’s answer of “why algae?” is one of the simplest I have researched.
Algae can be found almost everywhere — oceans, ponds, swimming pools, and common goldfish bowls. And while not truly plants, these single-celled organisms have the same photosynthetic ability to convert sunshine into chemical energy. For some species of algae, this chemical energy is in the form of oils very similar to common vegetable oil. What’s the big deal? These oils can be processed and used to produce Biodiesel.
In the current marketplace, Biodiesel from algae offers tremendous strength over conventional petro-diesel. Petroleum-based diesel fuel is at a competitive disadvantage in the $70 – $100 a barrel range. We’re around $146 as of this posting for a barrel of crude. In December 1996 the spot price for a barrel of crude was $25.390. This is the same year the U.S. Department of Energy closed the Biodiesel from algae program with the final results of the program stating “the high cost of algae production remains an obstacle”.
The other major strength for algae is lowering the United States dependency on petroleum products. Foreign oil dependency needs to be dramatically reduced or eliminated for the United States to continue as a global leader in the world market.Theoretically, algae can yield 1,000 to 20,000 gallons of oil per acre. This could mean 20 million acres of non-agricultural soil could generate enough Biodiesel to replace imported oil.