Like the nascent hydrogen economy, the biodiesel industry is trying to figure out the best way to move forward. Corn and soy are two of the main feedstocks right now but they're not the most promising for long-term use. As Imperium Renewables president John Plaza told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, these bridge feedstocks need to be used now so we can get a handle on how best to make and use biodiesel.
One of the candidates for highly efficient biodiesel production in the coming decades is, of course, algae. GreenFuel just sent its algae-in-the-smokestack to a South African company, and the numbers that Plaza gave for algae biodiesel efficacy mean it only makes sense for us to head in the direction of the little green creatures as soon as it's feasible:
  • Soy = 40 or 50 gallons of oil per acre per year
  • Brassicas = 100-150 gallons per acre per year
  • Palm = about 650 gallons per acre per year
  • Algae = perhaps 10,000 gallons per acre per year (algae can be harvested every two weeks instead of once a year)
(btw, because algae does "not represent a single evolutionary direction or line, but a level of organization that may have developed several times in the early history of life on earth," the term can refer to simple plants or organisms that are more animal-like)

[Source: Robert McClure / Seattle Post-Intelligencer]


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