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## Algae to the rescue

 Quote by mheslep OmCheeto you are a true visionary
Are you making fun of me or are you serious?

If you are serious then I would advise not encouraging me, as I can imagineer for hours. If you're making fun of me then you should just tell me I'm insane. It's ok. I'm used to it.

Ok. I'll continue my insane visionary rant:

 Quote by PRDan4th The stink of drying muck would have your neighbors loving you!
I'm a river rat, and have covered my body in live algae. Algae does not stink. The stench was probably due to the algae dying, and bacteria had taken over. Ivan is correct in that this needs to be a closed system.
 This may be a good idea but should be tied into a good reliable source of CO2 and warm water. A coal fired power plant would be perfect! The cooling pond aerated with flue gas for carbon sequestration and algae growing seems to be the best large plant location. A biofuel plant located on an adjacent site across the pond process the algae into liquid fuels. The residual fiberous waste could be blended with coal and fed to the power plant.
MIT answered that rhetorical statement.

hmmm.... mheslep. Are you a beer drinker?

How much CO2 does algae require to really thrive? (moles per little bugger per second)

Should I put on a mask at night to fuel them?
Should I collect the exhaust gas from my car? (I collected the numbers this morning, but have yet to run the them.)

Is CO2 really a problem? Or is it the solution?

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 Quote by OmCheeto Is CO2 really a problem? Or is it the solution?
It is important to remember that any added CO2 [not ambient] used to grow algae is ultimately released and added to the atmospheric CO2 resevoir when the biodiesel is burned. So, ideally we only want sources that are unavoidable CO2 producers that are not otherwise sequestered or scrubbed. But as you demonstrated, there are many large producers of CO2. And I can tell you that there are some other tricks that might be considered, but for now I'm not talking.

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 Quote by OmCheeto Are you making fun of me or are you serious?
I was applauding your imaginative beer based solution! Wish I had thought of it myself.

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 Quote by OmCheeto Gulp. Ok. This is not a backyard project. I now estimate a minimum $200,000 investment to be economical. http://www.bioking.nl/how_to_make_biodiesel.htm... Another annoying problem for the do it your-selfer, as I just discovered from a friend at EPA: the backyard project is illegal. That is, as soon as you put your 'home brew' in your vehicle and hit the public roads, its illegal. Apparently one needs approval from EPA first, not a trivial pursuit. EPA's contention is burden of proof is on you to first demonstrate that said home brew does not contain some bad juju. Edit: Same EPA friend tells me the bottom is recently dropping out of the Bio-diesel business (traditional soy, etc based). Why I can only speculate.  Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus What do you mean by the bottom dropping out? Nearbio.com lists 1599 operating biodiesel stations. Oregon just mandated that all diesel will be a minimum of B5. Washington is all B2. Recognitions: Gold Member  Quote by Ivan Seeking What do you mean by the bottom dropping out? Nearbio.com lists 1599 operating biodiesel stations. Oregon just mandated that all diesel will be a minimum of B5. Washington is all B2. I was told recently that a large chunk of US bio diesel, not ethanol, producers expect to get out of the business soon. I don't know why, maybe soy has become too expensive to raise vs other crops. Maybe its just a consolidation in the industry. Edit: Yes, looks like displacement by corn ethanol:  U.S. crop producers made dramatic shifts in acreage in 2007. The shifts were motivated by rising corn-based ethanol production and high corn prices, rising wheat prices, and a surplus of soybeans. The acreage shift was led by a 17 million acre increase in feed grains, including 15.3 million more acres of corn. Winter wheat acreage increased by about 3.1 million and harvested acreage of hay was up by nearly one million acres. These increases were accommodated by an 11.9 million acre decline in soybean plantings, http://www.ethanolmarket.com/PressRe...Illinois120107  Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus Given that diesel is pushing$5 a gallon, it is hard to understand why there is a suplus of soy... it may be that there is a shortage of fuel processors. I guess this could just be a matter of price fluctuations for the farmers. With the worldwide grain shortage, there is certainly pressure to produce grains.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Yes but much more pressure to produce corn esp. with the subsidies. I do not think there is a surplus of soy. If you look at the numbers soy is being directly displaced by corn. So there is plenty of bio diesel demand, but still hard times for soy based bio-diesel as they can't get stock. On the other hand, this is quite an opportunity for alternative, non-soy, bio diesel ventures.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus Unless there is a shortage of soy-bio processors, the only things that would make sense to me wrt corn is that that either the subisidies are the problem, or soy is relatively expensive to grow. I would think that a high demand for biodiesel would result in a high demand for soy, which should drive the price up.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus We had a corn farmer comment on this last year in another thread. I will see if I can track him down.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Homework Help Science Advisor Average yield of corn per acre in US is about 140 bushels per acre. Average yield of soybean per acre in US is about 33 bushels per acre. In Illinois, the breakeven price for corn is $3 per bushel and for soybean is$8.(http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/n...fefo07_17.html) I think corn is going for about $4.50 per bushel and soybean is going for about$12 per bushel. Total income per acre for corn is (4.5-3)*140 = $210 per acre Total income per acre for beans is (12-8)*33 =$132 per acre I know what crop I would go for....
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus Yep, that would do it.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus Over the last 8 years, the price of corn has gone from $1.86 to$5 on the chart, and in the news I am seeing $6. http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/p...iceHistory.asp Soybeans have gone from 5$ to 12$on the chart, and has topped$14. http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage/p...iceHistory.asp http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...ewM&refer=news The cost per bushel is rising with oil prices, but using the previous numbers. (6-3)*140 = $420 profit per acre of corn (14-8)*33 =$198 profit per acre of soybeans Both are now more expensive by a factor of three than they were eight years ago. The price of crude has risen from $20 a barrel to almost$140 a barrel. And the price of diesel has increased to a little more than a factor of three...probably just about now a four. But of course the current price of fuel lags the price of crude by I think a couple of months. And the cost of producing corn and soy lags the price of diesel.
 I have pretty much been following this thread since its inception and have really acquired an interest in this subject. Would it be possible for someone to post a list of good graduate programs doing research in algae fuels? I have a ChemE background so I'm interested in more of the engineering side than the biological side, although I'm sure there's plenty of overlap.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus I will dig up some additional references and names later, but I know that for one, there is a large program in Hawaii. I also know that there are people at Oregon State Univ working on this. The separation of the algae from water, and getting the oil from the algae, are two areas needing improvement.
 Thanks Ivan, I've definitely heard good things about those programs. Hawaii has something like the largest collection of algae species in the world I think. I had not previously known this, but oil extraction is one of the more costly processes involved in the sustainability of algae-based biodiesel. So, like you said, there seems to be a lot of room for improvement in that area. Ultrasonic-assissted extraction is fascinating to me because I had never thought of extracting oils (or anything) from plant cells like that. Basically you are just rupturing all the cells so that the contents spill out into solution. Interesting stuff; reading about this makes me wish I were more talented.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus I will tell you something that I had planned to keep secret but am not in a position to pursue: It may be possible to migrate the oil out of the cell using something near a 2MHz wave, without killing the algae. It is certainly possible to migrate material into a cell in such a manner. There is a scientist that would likely be a very good contact for you generally, and I will post his name later, but I didn't log things correctly and haven't found the email yet.
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