Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
As the world continues to seek energy solutions that may alleviate some of the big problems associated with fossil fuel extraction, new ideas and inventions are being made possible with technological advances.
At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, scientists and engineers have developed a new process to convert a green goo-like blend of algae and water into a mixture of crude oil, water and some usable by-products, a process which in nature takes millions of years to accomplish. By subjecting a special blend of algae and water to very high pressures and temperatures, they have effectively found a short-cut to the natural process which has produced oil in various forms across the planet.
“Solid biomass is not something you can put into a car, into an engine, you need to change it chemically and physically… It’s a bit like using a pressure cooker, only the processes and temperatures we use are much higher. In a sense we are duplicating the process in the Earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We’re just doing it much faster.” – Doug Elliot, Pacific Northwest Laboratory
After producing a type of light crude oil from this process, they are then able to refine it into a hydro-carbon gasoline product.
“The experiment, part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bio-products, eliminates two stages in the laborious laboratory process of converting algae to oil.
Researchers don’t have to expend fuel to dry the algae before sticking it in the reactor. Instead, the mix goes into the reactor as a well-stirred slurry with the consistency of pea soup: as much as 90 percent water, the rest algae rich in lipids (molecules which can store energy).” [Source]
If this process proves to be a viable and scaleable concept, then the possibility exists for a new form of bio-fuel production to challenge the highly damaging extractive processes which are causing huge environmental problems around the world.
About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an avid student of Yoga and life.
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