Algae biofuel industry continues to expand community and refine its vision of future

November 07 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2014   Rating: 3

We expect algae to become a mainstream energy buzz word in 2009 as more people become aware of this promising form of energy conversion. But first, leaders must close the great disconnect around the conversation of ‘biofuels’ and the future of bioenergy. The general public is lagging behind in the conversation by the near-term political distraction of corn derived ethanol, while policy makers, researchers and entrepreneurs are already moving forward on next generation biofuels derived from non-food crops like Jatropha and microbes like algae and biofuels. More forward looking bioenergy advocates argue that next generation biofuels will soon make corn irrelevant. Now they must begin the public awareness campaign to bring the public and policy makers into the future.

Why bioenergy?
The idea of bioenergy is simple. Tap power of biology to convert carbon into useful forms of energy. How? By following Mother Nature. Most forms of energy arrived via biology. Coal is ancient ferns and biomass, oil is likely ancient microbes that lived in shallow seas. Both bio systems used the power of sunlight to combine carbon with hydrogen (from water) to form complex hydrocarbon chains. The modern Industrial world is based on capturing energy from blowing up those chemical bonds. Rather than extract ancient bioenergy, the 21st century might be about ‘growing energy’ using those same biological principles.

Focusing on Algae-derived biofuels
The idea of carbon eating algae derived biofuels continues to gain momentum around bioenergy researchers and investors. Last month business leaders, investors, and researchers gathered in Seattle, WA for the 2nd Annual Algae Biomass Summit sponsored by The Algal Biomass Organization.

Renewable has a short recap of the event including a look at featured speakers and presence of the wider biofuels industry leaders. The number of attendees doubled to 700 from the inaugural conference of 350 people. And the profile of investor star power was raised as cleantech investor Vinod Khosla delivered the event’s keynote.

If things continue to expand, carbon eating ‘algae’ could become a big story in 2009 as investors continue to pump money into startups trying to scale low cost systems.

[Comprehensive list of algae biofuel companies]

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‘Growing Energy’ – TED Talk by Juan Enriquez
Steve Jurvetson: Biology and Energy are Converging & Accelerating
Green Oil in UK by 2020?

Comment Thread (6 Responses)

  1. Very interesting!!! It is good news that we are thinking lateral in these areas. Well done!!!

    Posted by: LifeORiley   November 10, 2008
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  2. Re: LifeoRiley

    Glad you enjoyed the piece… and innovative approach to turning carbon into a resource. Best, Garry

    Posted by: Garry Golden   November 10, 2008
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  3. I think in general, people forget that by the time certain things have been put into production, companies are already working on the next phase or tangent. I found your piece informative and educational! Thank You!

    Posted by: LifeORiley   November 11, 2008
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  4. This is the first time that I’ve heard about algae being used as a biofuel. I’ve always thought about how people should be coming up with alternative fuel, but I don’t think I would have ever thought about using algae. It’s inspiring to see what’s going on with research.

    Posted by: christinep   November 11, 2008
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  5. RE: christinep glad to hear that it’s now on your radar… algae based fuel is what powers our world—everything gallon of gasoline is basically ancient microbe energy…. coal is ancient plant (more carbon in plants, hence, dirtier)! thanks for the comment!

    Posted by: Garry Golden   November 11, 2008
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