NASA is testing a new technology for manufacturing offshore algal biofuel
U.S. researchers have developed a new way of producing algal biofuel algae by treating directly the open sea the opportunity to take on algal biofuels, often denigrated this side of the Atlantic.
In "Algal Biofuel using nanotechnology" published on May 6, I referred to research by two U.S. laboratories with Ames Research Center of NASA, a new way of producing algal biofuel. Today, a comprehensive article and exciting published on 15 May 2009 byCleantech can learn much more about this latest project, in which I expressed some reservations. The father of this new technology is the occurrence Jonathan Trent, researcher Star Ames Research Center in Moffett Field to NASA (USA), whose work on nanotechnology are published by NASA.
What do we know today? And although in reality this new technology that Trent says test at this time in the ocean with kinds of bags filled with wastewater combines its expertise in oceanography, astrobiology, molecular biology and nanotechnology in a beautifully project entitled " Sustainable Energy for Spaceship Earth "(Renewable Energy for Spaceship Earth).
We also learn that this project is funded for $ 250,000 by the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, directly supported by some Google users themselves. The discovery of Trent literally washing wastewater, removes carbon dioxide from the air, extract fuel oil while retaining important nutrients.
If NASA is particularly interested in the biofuel harvesting algal production and clean water, this is mainly because his attention is now focused on the exploitation of planetary systems, and according to Trent, "NASA now intends to tap into the planetary systems, renewable only way. "
The novelty of technology Jonathan Trent, compared to others, lies in the fact that it does not repatriate algae on land or do not try to grow them in ponds to extract the fuel but treated on site in open sea
This technology works on the principle that all waste is a resource. Using semi-permeable membranes, NASA technology interests to recycle wastewater generated by future space missions of long duration. The prototype was tested by NASA, in the form of a large container or a kind of giant plastic bag floating on the surface of the ocean.The bag collects solar energy to allow the growth of algae through photosynthesis and produce oxygen.
The waste water in the bags act as a fertilizer for algae and allow them to grow faster. In this technology, the wastewater is cleaned through a process of osmotic type: bags absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen and water. "The water that passes through the membrane is clean, says Trent, and we chose to move all the nutrients that would otherwise have been lost at sea." Jonathan Trent and NASA are in this culture bioreactors out the only guarantee of future profitability of algal biofuels.
However, a number of companies say they have developed efficient technologies in bioreactors, including Naples, Fla. where Algenol says it can produce cheaply, up nearly 4 billion gallons of algal biodiesel by year. In the United States, companies and Inventure Chemical and Gilbert Ariz.'s Diversified Energy, specialized in the production of chemicals have also focused their research on algae production ponds.
The oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell has also chosen this path by partnering with startups Hawaiian HR Biopetroleum in the construction of a pilot plant for the production of algal biofuel. At the beginning of the year, Shell has even indicated that he would not pursue wind and solar projects, to focus solely on biofuels. The American Solazyme associated with Chevron, No. 2 U.S. producer of oil, are moving in the same direction.
So we can always consider, as do many in Europe alas, everyone is wrong and that all are mistaken in making this bet. But we can also think that if NASA Chevron Cor, Royal Dutch Shell and the U.S. Army take the challenge of algal biofuel is that it must be more than a good reason to do so!
The NASA project has also been ranked priority by California Energy Commission to obtain a grant next $ 800,000. A sector of the Ministry of Defense has also just signed for almost $ 35 million in contracts with two companies of San Diego to develop an algal jet fuel used by aircraft of the U.S. Air Force as well as by vehicles Army. Although the technology prototype NASA and Ames laboratory is commercially more attractive, it is reasonable therefore to continue to deny that other mêm can become profitable?