Reposted from Quantum Leap Wellness

After many years observing the incredible growth of the supplement industry and watching in parallel that of the algae industry, I have become convinced that we are just starting to see the tip of the algae industry “iceberg”. And I have watched it go from being quasi unknown 10 years ago to being featured in the front page news of the energy industry today. Algae for medicine and health will also be a champion I have no doubt, but will not grow as fast because of the push-back from both the medical and pharmaceutical industries and frankly even from the isolates supplement industry.

And so we at BIOAGE have decided to support the algae industry in all of its potential, and to do so we are committing to make the topics of many of our 2014 BIONEWS about algae. In order to kickstart 2014 with a big bang, read our final 2013 article below, “Algae: The Future Fuel”.

Algae: The Future Fuel

Article written by Maryse Thomas in 2007 in the context of her high school studies

Note from the editor: Maryse has since graduated from McGill University of Montreal with a science degree and is now pursuing a Doctorate program in Neuroscience at McGill. Her teenage prediction was right; unknown to most in 2007, algae research is manifesting everyday in America and the world. There are now billions of dollars of investments in algae as an alternative source of fuel.

The most important organism on Earth is also one of the smallest. “If all six billion [humans] were to suddenly disappear, the Earth would barely notice; life would continue. But if the algae died, the Earth would soon become a barren almost lifeless rock” (Bloch). Algae are vital to life on Earth. They produce more than 71% of the world’s oxygen and simultaneously remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air (Bloch). Algae are also the foundation of most aquatic food chains. Humans have utilized algae for centuries as medicine, as a source of nutrition, as thickening agents in ice cream and cosmetics and more. Now, in a time of energy and environmental crisis, we are beginning to utilize algae as a source of fuel. These tiny photosynthetic organisms are rich in oil content, highly adaptable to a wide range of conditions and are beneficial to the environment. With industries and consumers on the lookout for an eco-friendly and economical alternative to oil, algae may be our greatest hope.

In September 2008, Bill Gates invested a considerable amount intoSapphire Energy, a company that has big hopes for a market in algae fuel. The company started with three friends discussing a very interesting question:Why is the biofuel industry spending so much time and energy to manufacture ethanol — a fundamentally inferior fuel?” (Winter). Ethanol and other plant based fuels are inefficient because they don’t produce much oil, especially considering the amount of land and resources they require to harvest. With algae, almost the entire organism is dedicated to converting carbon dioxide to lipids, natural oil, through photosynthesis. Some species of algae contain over 60% oil by weight. According to researchers at Utah State University, algae yield approximately 10,000 gallons of oil per acre. “Our most productive feedstock today, the oil palm, doesn’t even come close with yields of 635 gallons/acre, and is followed distantly by the U.S. standard, soy, at 48 gallons of oil/acre” (Cornell). Their high oil content is only one of the many attractive characteristics of algae that have convinced people like Bill Gates that an investment in algae fuel is the right step to take.

A unique characteristic of algae is their ability to proliferate in harsh growing conditions like saltwater, waste-water and extreme temperatures. Several power plants across the United States are even channeling smokestack carbon dioxide emissions through pools of algae. The algae clean the emissions, keeping greenhouse gases out of the air and in exchange, the algae thrive on the added nutrients (Hartman). Because of this characteristic, algae can be cultivated in locations where it is impossible for corn or other crops to grow. In addition, algae grow continuously, 365 days a year, and at an incredible rate, doubling their mass several times a day. The United States Energy Department estimates that if all the petroleum fuel in the United States were replaced with algae fuel, it would require 15,000 square miles to grow, an area just a few thousand miles larger than the state of Maryland (Hartman). This is less than 1/7th the area use to harvest corn in the United States in 2000. The unique ability of algae to grow in a wide range of conditions and at breakneck speed makes them the “ultimate in renewable energy” (Walton).

At the same time that we are solving the energy crisis, algae fuel will help us solve the environmental crisis. Even if we weren’t depleting our resources of petroleum and gasoline, they would still be creating immense problems. When fuel is burned, it releases carbon dioxide into the air, heating our planet. As algae grow, they take carbon dioxide out of the air and recycle it (Bloch). In addition, algae fuel is biodegradable, relatively harmless to the environment if spilled, and the production of algae fuel does not affect freshwater resources. Not only can algae fuel be used to power our cars, it has also been turned into jet fuel and home heating oil. Skeptics of algae fuel claim that it “could never compete economically with fossil fuels” (Walton), but the oil yield per acre, efficiency in engineering and benefits to the environment should be significant enough to convince them otherwise. “Literally and figuratively, this is green fuel” (Walton).

About 10,000 years ago, the greatest revolution in human history was the development of agriculture. Prior to this, humans were nomadic and lived as hunter-gatherers, forced to follow their food and flee from predators to survive. The development of agriculture allowed them to finally settle down, produce food for themselves and domesticate animals. What many people don’t realize is that not only did humans domesticate animals during this period; they also domesticated microorganisms. They encouraged some species to ferment crops, used yeast to make bread and alcohol, and bacteria to make yogurt and cheese (Bloch). Without these developments, our society could not have progressed to what it is today. Now, the agricultural revolution has come full circle and we must utilize the world’s most important organism to complete it. Algae as a source of food, medicine, oxygen and fuel are certainly proving to be invaluable to humans. Because of its high oil content, capacity to grow in a wide range of conditions and minimal carbon footprint, algae fuel is the solution to the energy and global warming crises. It is time that humans humbled themselves and turned to one of the smallest organisms on earth to answer our generation’s biggest problems.

Bibliography

  • Bloch, Len. “Algae: Nature’s Smallest Gift.Fun-science-project-ideas.com. Accessed 1/29/09. <http://www.fun-science-project-ideas.com/E-book-about-algae.html>.
  • Cornell, Clayton B. “Algae Biodiesel May Soon Be Reality.”Green Options.May 24, 2007. Accessed 1/30/09. <http://claytonbodiecornell.greenoptions.com/2007/05/24/algae-biodiesel-may-soon-be-reality/>.
  • Green, Hank. “Bill Gates Invests in Algae Fuel.”EcoGeek.September 17, 2008. Accessed 1/30/09. <http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/2136/>.
  • Hartman, Eviana. “A Promising Oil Alternative: Algae Energy.”The Washington Post.January 6, 2008. Accessed 1/30/09. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/03/AR2008010303907.html>.
  • Steinman, Alan D. “Algae,”Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2008. Accessed 1/30/09. <http://encarta.msn.com>.
  • Walton, Marsha. “Algae: The Ultimate in Renewable Energy.”CNN News.April 1, 2008. Accessed 1/30/09. <http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/04/01/algae.oil/index.html>.
  • Winter, Jozef. “World’s First Renewable Gasoline.”EcoGeek.May 30, 2008. Accessed 1/30/09. <http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/1687/70/>.

 

 



Missing Podcast?

If you see an error with an archived podcast or know that an episode of our show is missing, please press the button below to send us a message so we can look into it.

Enter your name and email if you want to be notified when this podcast is fixed:

'Algae: The Future Fuel' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

©Copyright One Radio Network 2019 • All rights reserved. | Site built by RedLotus Austin
The information on this website and talk shows is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors, producers of One Radio Network, Patrick Timpone, their guests or web masters take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained on this website in written or audio form, live or podcasts. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider and take total responsibility for his or her actions at all times. Patrick Joseph of the family of Timpone, a man...All rights reserved, without recourse.