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Algae cleans smokestacks, yields biodiesel

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posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 02:15 PM
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www.csmonitor.com...
BOSTON – Isaac Berzin is a big fan of algae. The tiny, single-celled plant, he says, could transform the world's energy needs and cut global warming.

Overshadowed by a multibillion-dollar push into other "clean-coal" technologies, a handful of tiny companies are racing to create an even cleaner, greener process using the same slimy stuff that thrives in the world's oceans.

Enter Dr. Berzin, a rocket scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. About three years ago, while working on an experiment for growing algae on the International Space Station, he came up with the idea for using it to clean up power-plant exhaust.


www.greenfuelonline.com...
GreenFuel Tech, of Cambridge, mass, homepage

Global Warming or not, Peak oil or not, this is certainly a step in the right direction. That is to say, this is one big step and not one forward and two back. In it's basics, smokestack exhaust is channeled through tubes of algae seedings. Along with natural sunlight, the algae will grow and is harvested at the end of the growth cycle. When tested, the exhaust from a 20-MW powerplant at MIT yielded 40% less Carbon Dioxide and 86& less Nitrous Oxide. Given the strain of algae chosen, such a setup couuld be estimated to produce 15,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre (Soybeans produce ~60 gallons/acre).
The production of biodiesel is what makes this such an amazing concept. This is not a government mandate to lower pollution, this isn't pressure from Greenpeace or the Sierra club. This is a chance for plant owners to squeeze out more profit (yes, profit) from their waste. Programs like these will bring us into the future. This isn't abiotic oil, or cold fusion. We would still be burning coal in our powerplants, instead of fusing atoms. But this is a sign that we are on our way. Setting this system up nationwide, well, I'm sure you can imagine the possibilities once you read the article.


"You want to do good for the environment, of course, but we're not forcing people to do it for that reason - and that's the key," says the founder of GreenFuel Technologies, in Cambridge, Mass. "We're showing them how they can help the environment and make money at the same time."




posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 02:23 PM
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Good post TGDF - thanks.


...My comment comes from frustration - and please don't take it personally.

I find it absolutely inconscionable that "science" is creating a world that simply will not sustain life as we know it - but claims the ability to create better and more useful lifeforms.

I mean, they couldn't get it right the first time, so what makes them think they've got it now?





posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 02:46 PM
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Thank you, soficrow, I've been waiting to start posting, finally found something worth it


As to your comment, I cannot agree with you more. For all that humanity has accomplished, we have left behind a wake that is far too large and destructive. For our computers and medicines and, yes, magic algae farms that clean smokestacks and produce fuel, we have left behind (figuratively and literally) landfills, radiation, crater shells, death, disease, famine, etc.

Having accepted that fact, the question begs itself "Well, what do we do now?" To quote that man whose name is best left unspoken, we need to "Stay the course"
. We do have these problems in our society, we are damagin our enviroment to an extent it was never meant to handle. The key to this age, though, is that we have become aware and (to a limited area) have taken responsibility for our landfills and famines and lost topsoil.

Mankind is actively working to reverse the damage we have caused. We are recycling, we are employing sustainable agri/aquaculture, and paying more attention to those appliances with the energy star on them. This is much more than could be said for the robber barons who cared for the bottom line, tearing tops off of hills to get the coal within. Much more than could be said for tossing your chamberpot out your window in 15th century london. Much more than could be said for the agriculturalists of the once fertile and rich area known as mesopotamia.

I don't mean to paint a rosy picture of today and tomorrow. But what else are we going to do? Smell the garbage in the morning air and taste our polluted water, then say "Well, I guess it's not worth it". Should we destroy our factories, lay bare our fields, and loose our herds? Just sit back and slowly wither away in our waste pile? Humanity is better than that, and has the strength to carry the load of our forefathers, while undoing the marks of their greed and ignorance. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm just gonna hop right off this here soap box



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 02:57 PM
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Originally posted by TheGoodDoctorFunk

Having accepted that fact, the question begs itself "Well, what do we do now?" To quote that man whose name is best left unspoken, we need to "Stay the course"
.


Thanks for that response.


I agree - there is hope. And that hope likely does lie exactly where our problems started. Interesting how that works, isn't it?



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 03:29 PM
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(Just spent 15 minutes trying to sound eloquent. Settled on this)

True enough, it is amazing that hope drives our ambition, our need for a better life. Since the industrial revolution, society has changed every generation, and the shift has always been based on "Well, my parents did this, and look where they are now, so I think I'll do this instead". Whether it was immigrating to the US to find work that isn't related to potatoe farming, to being the first member of the family to go on to higher education, to (maybe) tossing away the bland arena of office work in favor of unorthodox fields of work and a betterment of the enviroment. In any case, we're in the midst of such a change. Who knows where it will bring us ultimately, but I can be sure of this: It'll be more difficult to bring around than most anything that has preceded it.



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 03:55 PM
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Sounds great. But watch the Oil Corporations buy up the rights to Algea now and supress it like every other Peak oil ending technology.

I hate this Corporate World.



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 04:36 PM
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That's one of the remarkable things about a development like this, jin. Much of the technology which the energy companys may or may not supress are alleged to benefit the consumer most of all (Example, cold fusion, renewable hydrogen tech, etc). This system, though, benefits both sides (almost) equally. The consumer gets healthier air and a cleaner, renewable fuel. The energy company that installs such a system into their plants literally gets something for nothing (minus capital investment). Build the system, add slime and your exhaust fumes, and you wind up with algae to convert to biodiesel.
The wonderful thing is that Algae cannot be bought, per se. It is essentially that slimy stuff you find in ponds during the summer. From the conglomerate's perspective, it is win-win. They get something for almost nothing, and they can begin to commercialize biodiesel. As bad as it is, biodiesel production is very difficult if not impossible for the "mom and pop" setup. As for peak oil, this will not end peak oil. A 1,000 MW power plant with 1,000 acres of algae tubes will be estimated to produce 40 million gallons of biod and 50 million gallons of ethanol per year. America consumes ~320 Million gallons of gasoline per day. Even if this were put into place on every coal plant in the americas, there would still be a need for petroleum. Like I said, Win win for the oil companies, but at least it's the bone we've been grovelling for.



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 04:50 PM
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good point.

But we need a multitude of different resources to end peak oil.

And it's possible. It's just that the Oil Companies don't allow us to advance. They have a stranglehold on the world and refuse to let go.

If we invested in Hemp Oil, other bio-diesels, Veg oil, improved engines that burn Oil cleaner then we can do alot better.

It's just that the powers that be make it incredibly difficult for us to be removed from the dependency on oil. They have us exactly where they want us. On our knees mouths wide open and ready for that surprise.



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 05:15 PM
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I don't deny you your points, they are indeed just as valid as mine. As Soficrow put it ,though, there is hope. The common denominator of many a conspiracy theory is that there is hope to this, yes, there is a way we overcome this and have a better future. The will to make that future manifest comes in next.



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 08:50 PM
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Oh there's hope alright.

It' comes in the following.

.303
30-06
223

just to name a few.



posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 10:02 AM
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Originally posted by jinsanity
Oh there's hope alright.

It' comes in the following.

.303
30-06
223

just to name a few.


I believe we are going to win this one with hand hammered katanas and battle axes. I want nothing with the corporate 30-06; except maybe to pop the goon in the chin with it's butt as full compensation for the 7-figure annual return on his War Profiteer stock porfolio.

On the subject though... I wonder if these algea could be used to clean out the smokestack on my woodburner. Is the species patented yet?

Smithy fired,

Sri Oracle

Just wakin' up... *stretch* ...wonder how those powerliines irradiating above will modify my genome today. Stronger.



posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 11:38 AM
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I don't believe the algae has been patented, but if it is so then you could likely do some research and find another viable species. I don't believe that hooking this system up to a woodstove would be plausible, economically or physically. While a jerry-rigged algae farm could be hooked up with some clear plastic tubing, there is the question of flushing out the algae, keeping the tubes cleaned, and converting the algae to biodiesel and ethanol would require some sort of press and an oven, and the whole setup with which to distill the oil from the algae into diesel. All in all, I'd say leave it to the big boys for now.
Then again, never let someone else tell you what to do



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