The future of green? Local laboratory turns algae to crude oil in minutes

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RICHLAND, Wash. — An Eastern Washington laboratory has developed a way to mass-convert algae into crude oil, potentially having vast implications on the future and possibility of a carbon-neutral fuel source.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratories has found a way to convert wet, sloppy algae into crude oil by condensing a process that takes a million-year process and condenses it into a matter of minutes, according to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers. The conversion process is so effective, the local company has licensed the technology and is working with industrial partners to build a large-scale version of the conversion machine.

Scientists have long been able to turn algae into crude oil, but only through a lengthy, expensive process on a smaller scale. The new PNNL technology harnesses “algae’s energy potential efficiently and incorporates a number of methods to reduce the cost of producing algae fuel,” PNNL reported.

Algae

From PNNL.gov

Prior to the new process, algae needed to be dried before conversion; a process that was expensive. Now PNNL is producing the oil from wet algae.

“Not having to dry  the algae is a big win in the process; that cuts the cost a deal,” said Douglas Elliott, the laboratory fellow who led the PNNl team’s research.

For more information on this PNNL story, click here.

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4 comments

  • The World is Ending

    This is the last we will hear about this, the big oil companies will buy it off and bury it and if the developers won't sell they will simply disappear.

    • Guest

      Scary thought but you might be right on the money. There have been several inventions over the years that the oil companies bought out the inventors and nothing was ever heard from them again. Maybe they were well paid for their silence.

    • bs1

      The big energy companies will license it, develop it and provide cheaper fuel from it since they already own the refineries necessary to process it into the fuels we need. They have no interest in "burrying" it when they can profit from it.