Tuesday, July 28, 2009

OriginOil's Algae Biofuel Breakthrough

Yup, yup... I'm 100% cocksure that breakthroughs will make algae biofuel viable on a cost-competitive scale. It may be a few years away, perhaps as far as 10, but some herd of eggheads is going to nail this. I'm putting my ego's stock in this like I pumped it into shale gas: betting it would be abundant, it would become cheaper to produce, that it would be a viable energy source far past our lifetimes (and look what happened). So, without further ado, let's check into OriginOil's latest proclamation:

OriginOil, based in Los Angeles, just announced another potential breakthrough in getting oil from pond scum. One big difference from the spate of recent announcements in the algae-sphere: Origin’s new technology promises a better way to “milk” algae to extract their natural oils.

The upshot is that Origin uses electrical pulses to get at the oil inside algae without killing them, leaving them alive to produce more oil. Other processes rely on “harvesting” the algae, extracting the oil, then waiting for a fresh batch of algae to grow. Origin plans to merge the two methods—culling part of the algae and milking part of it.

The company says it is a low-tech and thus lower cost solution than other ideas that have been making the rounds. Most of those rely on genetically-engineering algae to excrete hydrocarbon-like liquids. And cost is still a huge issue for algae-to-oil operations, even if the cavalry is coming in the form of more government goodies.

- Brewskie

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