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Nature_and_Environment.10

Renewable Energy Living

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{Nature_and_Environment.10.34}: ... {wren1111} Fri, 15 Apr 2005 03:12:32 CDT (HTML)

ALGAE AS A BIOMASS SOURCE

http://www.energybulletin.net/1330.html

ENERGY FROM ALGAE http://www.accesstoenergy.com/view/atearchive/s76a5002.htm

A more sophisticated way of collecting solar energy biologically is to grow algae that can be induced to form fatty substances suitable for refining into petroleum products.

Algae have been grown for some time as health food ingredients and in oxidation ponds for wastewater treatment. Under normal circumstances, algae contain mainly hydrocarbons and proteins; the fat content does not exceed 20% of the total dry weight. But in 1980 it was discovered that under nutritional stress¾limited nutrients or saline environment¾certain microalgae will accumulate up to 72% of their weight as lipids (fatty substances).

So by starving them you make them grow fatter? Only in a sense: by limiting their food, you make them form a higher percentage of their body weight as fat.

A typical algal mass has a heating value (heat produced by combustion) of 8,000-10,000 BTU/lb, which is better than lignite; but the heating value of algal oil and lipids is 16,000 BTU/lb, which is better than anthracite.

Another species of freshwater algae, Botryococcus, is thought to be responsible for present petroleum reserves, for it is capable of synthesizing hydrocarbons. It is hoped (but not yet certain) that the hydrocarbons extracted from this and other species can be readily processed by the present petrochemical industry to produce gasoline and other petroleum products.

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