Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ethanol For $1 a Gallon Using Unfarmable Land and Undrinkable Water

Corn can produce 350-400 gallons of ethanol per acre per year. Cellulosic fuels such as grass and wood chips can produce 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year, but so far, not cheaply enough to compete with gasoline.

But Algenol, a company in Florida, has successfully achieved 9,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year using algae grown in salt water at one dollar a gallon! Another company, Joule Energy, is producing 15,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year at $1.23 per gallon using undrinkable water! And they are confident they will eventually be able to achieve 25,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year!

How are they able to achieve this? They genetically modified algae to produce ethanol. Let me be clear: These companies are not harvesting the algae and then fermenting it. The algae itself excretes ethanol continuously, which is why the yields are so remarkable the production is continuous year round. Corn is a crop grown and harvested only once a year.

The algae are grown inside tubes, so evaporation is minimal. It can be done in on harsh desert land in fact that might be the best place to do it since there is so much sunlight.

To accelerate the algae's growth, waste CO2 is pumped into it, turning a burdensome waste into a valuable resource.

What Joule Energy is doing is so remarkable, they won a very prestigious award this year by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They said, "Every year, the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Pioneers program identifies 10 companies from around the world that are changing the energy landscape as we know it. An independent panel of industry experts from banking, academia, corporations, utilities and technology providers choose the honourees by assessing them against three criteria: potential to scale, innovation and momentum." In April, 2013, Joule was given this award.

Joule has also genetically modified algae to make diesel fuel and jet fuel.

More information: 
Algenol web site
Joule Energy website
Article about Joule Energy's funding
Joule Plant Overview video

Video interviewing CEO of Joule

Author: Adam Khan, the co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org and co-author of the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom.  

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