Algal power not so green after all

Algal power not so green after all

There are 16 comments on the www.newscientist.com story from Feb 1, 2010, titled Algal power not so green after all. In it, www.newscientist.com reports that:

ALGAE have been touted as a solution to environmental worries over biofuels, but they may be a long way from providing a truly green option.

Unlike maize, soya beans and oilseed rape (canola), algal farms don't take up valuable farmland, so algae-based biofuels don't threaten food supplies. However, Andres Clarens at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville has modelled the environmental impacts of algal farms and concludes that they require six times as much energy as growing land plants - and emit significantly more greenhouse gases (Environmental Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1021/es902838n).

Join the discussion below, or Read more at www.newscientist.com.

Earthling

Hellín, Spain

#1 Feb 2, 2010
Well that's another hope of clean fuel down the pan along with a few $million of Exxon's cash.
Looks more and more like it'll be back to horse drawn transport when oil runs out.
Aureon Kwolek

Tucson, AZ

#2 Feb 2, 2010
U of V Algae Study Not Grounded in Reality

This study has been discredited by the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO), San Diego. The study used outdated raceway ponds and old methods that are no longer used. It assumed that CO2 would be shipped-in, rather than co-locating algae production adjacent to a source of waste CO2, which is typical. "ABO said that the report was based upon obsolete data and "grossly outdated" business models, and overlooked tremendous improvements in technology and processes across the production cycle." (Green Car Congress)


Algae is already being integrated into a variety of waste CO2 sources: Power plants, sewage and digester effluent, food processing waste water, manure effluent from dairy, poultry, hog, and cattle farms, and corn ethanol refineries, etc.

The study also distorted water usage. It modeled algae that was Not co-located with a source of waste water. And omitted environmental credits for mitigating waste and pollutants. Algae is already integrated with corn ethanol waste CO2, waste water "centrate", and waste heat at the Green Plains ethanol plant, and many other integrated and co-located algae projects. But instead, the study used old technology, that was not integrated or co-located with waste CO2 or waste water. That distorted the true algae footprint that is currently in development.

The study also used unrealistic assumptions for nutrient use, energy use, dewatering, and the purchase of CO2 and fertilizer. This threw the data way off and resulted in false conclusions:

"Even with the scientific shortcomings of the survey, it shows that with a few improvements, algae is much better than terrestrial plants as a fuel source. The truth is that the algae industry is already well beyond the obvious improvements these authors suggest, and as we add these new efficiencies, algae will become much more environmentally beneficial." — Dr. Stephen Mayfield, director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology.
frank miller

United States

#3 Feb 2, 2010
I know that none of you 'politically correct' generation has ever heard of a 'Rube Goldberg', but hey if the Feds have billions of dollars to give away for 'green projects' start-ups, and tax breaks to squeeze what little combustible fractionable oil distillates there may be in algae, who can blame Algal, for getting on the gravy train?! Now if Algal was extracting some kind of useful value-added antibiotic derivative, for instance, then that's something else!
After all, the CO2 you used to photosynthesize
the green algae, goes right back into the atmosphere, 2 ways: 1] force feeding CO2/light
into pond. 2] Unless you leave the algae in the
natural Sun to dry, prior to processing it,the artificial heat you use also generates CO2, and worst HEAT. 3} Fermenting, distilling takes billions of B.t.u of heat, CO2, and whatnot obnoxious gases! And after you've done all that you burn it in a vehicle to return the heat/CO2 into the atmosphere! So why make algae in the first place, when the thermodynamic energy/reactants/biproducts have a zero sum game balance? Oh, I see the Feds are paying for it! Now I get it!
F.M.

“Denying those who deny nature”

Since: Jun 07

Norfolk va

#4 Feb 3, 2010
Aureon Kwolek wrote:
U of V Algae Study Not Grounded in Reality
This study has been discredited by the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO), San Diego. The study used outdated raceway ponds and old methods that are no longer used. It assumed that CO2 would be shipped-in, rather than co-locating algae production adjacent to a source of waste CO2, which is typical. "ABO said that the report was based upon obsolete data and "grossly outdated" business models, and overlooked tremendous improvements in technology and processes across the production cycle." (Green Car Congress)
Algae is already being integrated into a variety of waste CO2 sources: Power plants, sewage and digester effluent, food processing waste water, manure effluent from dairy, poultry, hog, and cattle farms, and corn ethanol refineries, etc.
The study also distorted water usage. It modeled algae that was Not co-located with a source of waste water. And omitted environmental credits for mitigating waste and pollutants. Algae is already integrated with corn ethanol waste CO2, waste water "centrate", and waste heat at the Green Plains ethanol plant, and many other integrated and co-located algae projects. But instead, the study used old technology, that was not integrated or co-located with waste CO2 or waste water. That distorted the true algae footprint that is currently in development.
The study also used unrealistic assumptions for nutrient use, energy use, dewatering, and the purchase of CO2 and fertilizer. This threw the data way off and resulted in false conclusions:
"Even with the scientific shortcomings of the survey, it shows that with a few improvements, algae is much better than terrestrial plants as a fuel source. The truth is that the algae industry is already well beyond the obvious improvements these authors suggest, and as we add these new efficiencies, algae will become much more environmentally beneficial." — Dr. Stephen Mayfield, director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology.
Irnonically many of those waste products have others uses. For example the corn ethanol waste happens to make excellent cattle feed. Another wate protduct that tures out to have another use is waste water which is excellent for growing crops and once treated can be used for other industrial processes instead of potable water. Sewage once treated is another item which has uses althought a few cases of improperaly treated sewage has cause a food issues with food.

The problem with all alternaive fuel sources has that any of the material in question is either using farmland that is already being used for other things or is used in other manners like sawdust in making brake pads. Of all the sources algee has been the most difficult since it requires plenty of heat and water in order to produce and to produce the quanities needed is going to be both material and energy intensive. Lucky one of the sources would be the sun but then again your going to need a location that receives sunlight nearly every day and those areas are usally desert which is even less conductive for growing algee.

Also while the business models in question may not be as accurate as tehy could be what makes you think the ABO models are any better. I would be willing to bet that they take a way more optimisitc apporach than a realistic one.
Raptor in Michigan

Howell, MI

#5 Feb 3, 2010
Hey, I have an idea. Let's try oil, oil shale, coal, natural gas and nuclear power.
PHD

Jackson, MI

#6 Feb 5, 2010
tina anne wrote:
<quoted text>
Irnonically many of those waste products have others uses. For example the corn ethanol waste happens to make excellent cattle feed. Another wate protduct that tures out to have another use is waste water which is excellent for growing crops and once treated can be used for other industrial processes instead of potable water. Sewage once treated is another item which has uses althought a few cases of improperaly treated sewage has cause a food issues with food.
The problem with all alternaive fuel sources has that any of the material in question is either using farmland that is already being used for other things or is used in other manners like sawdust in making brake pads. Of all the sources algee has been the most difficult since it requires plenty of heat and water in order to produce and to produce the quanities needed is going to be both material and energy intensive. Lucky one of the sources would be the sun but then again your going to need a location that receives sunlight nearly every day and those areas are usally desert which is even less conductive for growing algee.
Also while the business models in question may not be as accurate as tehy could be what makes you think the ABO models are any better. I would be willing to bet that they take a way more optimisitc apporach than a realistic one.
You miss spoke you meant that you have sawdust for brains. Now how much area does it take?
Earthling

Hellín, Spain

#7 Feb 5, 2010
PHD wrote:
Now how much area does it take?
A lot more than you can afford, but less than the vacant brain cavity in your skull.

“Denying those who deny nature”

Since: Jun 07

Norfolk va

#8 Feb 5, 2010
Earthling wrote:
<quoted text>A lot more than you can afford, but less than the vacant brain cavity in your skull.
Remeber the advice you gave me to stop talking to PHD because it really was a waste of time. You were right and should follow that advice yourself. His area question is nothing more than a trick question because if he did give all the information to comp-lete it and make it answerable then he would end up looking even more foolish.

SO follow your own advice and ignore the pointy headed dunce.
Earthling

Hellín, Spain

#9 Feb 5, 2010
Tina, taking the rise out of him isn't quite the same as responding to the loony's silly questions.
PHD

Jackson, MI

#10 Feb 5, 2010
Earthling wrote:
<quoted text>A lot more than you can afford, but less than the vacant brain cavity in your skull.
Do what you do best. Now go get your shine box and get to work. Remember polish on polish off.
PHD

Jackson, MI

#11 Feb 5, 2010
tina anne wrote:
<quoted text>
Remeber the advice you gave me to stop talking to PHD because it really was a waste of time. You were right and should follow that advice yourself. His area question is nothing more than a trick question because if he did give all the information to comp-lete it and make it answerable then he would end up looking even more foolish.
SO follow your own advice and ignore the pointy headed dunce.
You would have to learn how to spell and speak proper English first. Now go back to school start at K level and pay attention.

Since: Sep 09

Calgary, Canada

#12 Feb 5, 2010
All this CO2 concern is just a crock anyway. Despite all the accumulating CO2, global average temperatures have confounded the AGW proseletyzers by failing to rise to their confident predictions:

pretty graphs of global temperature averages updated monthly:
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/diagnost...
http://tinyurl.com/cvnzt7
Earthling

Hellín, Spain

#13 Feb 6, 2010
GlynnMhor wrote:
All this CO2 concern is just a crock anyway. Despite all the accumulating CO2, global average temperatures have confounded the AGW proseletyzers by failing to rise to their confident predictions:
pretty graphs of global temperature averages updated monthly:
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/diagnost...
http://tinyurl.com/cvnzt7
CO2 doesn't have the power, even the AGW cult followers know this, they just won't admit it.
anonymous

Spring, TX

#14 Feb 12, 2010
Algae research grants need to be investigated!!!

The US Government has spent over $2.5 billion dollars on algae research in the last 35 years and all we have to show for it are shelves full of useless patents. Algae have been researched at universities and in laboratories in the US for over 50 years, financed in significant part by government funds. One of the largest problems is that the research has been done in laboratories and at universities, using federal funds, and there is fear at that level that commercialization will ‘ruin it for them’. What it will ruin is the steady stream of ‘free’ money flowing from the DOE, NREL, the DOD, DARPA and other Washington-based agencies to University Row. It was most disconcerting to hear from more than one agency that the funds it awards are, by Congressional mandate, restricted to research. If we could invest one years’ worth of awards into commercialization instead of research, we could easily move this industry into commercialization. The research would be needed to improve technologies, but Microsoft and the American Petroleum Industry, among others, can confirm that this is a necessary component of any industry growth.

“Denying those who deny nature”

Since: Jun 07

Norfolk va

#15 Feb 12, 2010
Earthling wrote:
Tina, taking the rise out of him isn't quite the same as responding to the loony's silly questions.
Well I have stopped responding to him until he comes up with a real question. After all you were right about the point that all he has are insults and a half question.
PHD

Jackson, MI

#16 Feb 13, 2010
tina anne wrote:
<quoted text>
Well I have stopped responding to him until he comes up with a real question. After all you were right about the point that all he has are insults and a half question.
Insults are because you cannot answer the question. You will never respond because your a box of rocks that dosen't have a clue. Go back to school start at K level and pay attention this time.

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