Algae to Crude While You Wait

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington have beat nature by millions of years in turning algal glop into crude oil,  cooking a “a verdant green paste with the consistency of pea soup” into oil, water, and a nutritious batch of byproducts. Douglas Elliott, the laboratory fellow leading PNNL team’s research says, “It’s a bit like using a pressure cooker, only the pressures and temperatures we use are much higher.  In a sense, we are duplicating the process in the Earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We’re just doing it much, much faster.” “Faster” means an hour or less, researchers having combined several chemical steps normally associated with …

Fast Food for an Energy-Hungry Economy

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Phil Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau professor and a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, with Julia Faeth, a doctoral student in Savage’s University of Michigan laboratory, have unveiled a fast-cooking process that converts 65-percent of wet algae feedstock into biocrude in one minute. Considering that nature takes millennia to convert ancient flora and fauna into the raw materials of our energy economy, this decidedly quicker process might capture even the shortest of attention spans. The team investigated the hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of wet Nannochloropsis species algae, something like pressure cooking your vegetables, for a mere minute. This was enough to create a form of at least a biofuel precursor. The video exposes Dr. Savage’s skeptical view …