Oil from algae: weird?

posted at 9:00 am on February 25, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Old and busted: Gravy Train. New hotness: Algae Train.

Quite a few of us have been having some fun with President Obama’s energy speech on Thursday, but perhaps none more so than Newt Gingrich. He’s been out on the trail and getting more than a few laughs with one particular portion of the prepared remarks. Those had to do with government’s interest in bio-fuels derived from algae.

Newt Gingrich has been hitting Obama’s energy speech since the president delivered it Thursday, calling the speech funny enough to be on SNL and “something worthy of Leno or Letterman.”

Gingrich’s biggest talking point about Obama’s speech attacks the president for his embrace of investments in biofuels such as those made from algae.

He is referring to a point in Obama’s speech when the president said, “We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance known as algae.”

On Thursday night, Gingrich mocked the president’s speech in front of an Idaho crowd, by suggesting that he should take a bottle of algae with him and “go around and we can have the Obama solution.”

“And maybe what we ought to do at Newt.org is we ought to get t-shirts that say ‘You choose.’ Gingrich went on to suggest the slogans, ‘You have Newt: Drill here, Drill Now, Pay Less. You have Obama: Have Algae, Pay More, Be Weird.”

Politics is all too often more about image than substance, as Newt knows well, and on the surface he’s found himself a target. Oil from what most people think of essentially as “pond scum” does indeed sound kind of weird. But is it? (You can find a beginner’s guide to how it’s done here.)

Research into this technology has been gong on for quite a while now, and it’s not science fiction. In fact there are some companies who have already established international partnerships to bring a variety of products to market by processing algae. But how close are we to the point where it becomes a viable source for fuel oil? Even Newt himself said we might get there in the next few decades, but those trying to do it today have run into some problems.

Case in point is Solazyme Inc., a South San-Francisco-based biofuel company that made over its product line and is now selling beauty products and nutritional supplements in addition to fuel that can be used in ground and air transportation. But how quickly the new model pays off is to be determined.

On Tuesday, Solazyme posted a wider-than-expected net loss for Q4 2011 of $15.6 million on a GAAP basis, compared with $2.9 million in the same quarter in 2010.

Revenue dropped to $14.9 million compared with $23.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2010…

Learning from failure is also critical. “We were right that algae was the best platform to make oil but wrong about how to do it,” he said.

“It soon became clear we were making renewable oils,” Wolfson said.

A Solazyme food chemist experimented with microalgae and discovered that it could be used as a cosmetic that protects against sunlight or lack of moisture. Moreover algae could also produce ingredients low in saturated fats that can be used in cookies, snacks and other foods.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Solazyme has a name which sounds so much like Solyndra, so don’t worry. But they might have something more in common than that. Solazyme has already gotten more than $20M in federal grants to develop bio-fuels. I’m glad to see that the company is surviving and employing people, but there may be a lesson to be learned here from the fact that they’ve scaled back their efforts to create fuel and are instead making cosmetics and snack food supplements.

Like so many other such efforts, new technologies take time to develop and this one may still wind up producing something good on a large scale. But we don’t appear to be there yet. When the President says we’re going to “focus” on this more, we need to ask if that means pouring more taxpayer dollars into these companies and if we learned anything from Washington’s dalliance with tinkering in ethanol, wind and solar.

If Solazyme can make a go of it and become profitable on their own, that’s great – even if it’s from making skin care products. (And it’s worth noting that they are still producing fuel. In fact, United Airlines recently made their first flight using a 60/40 mix of standard and bio-fuel, and have contracted with Solazyme to purchase more fuel from them each year.) But if they’re going to produce oil on the scale required to replace a significant amount of the fossil fuels we use, they need to show that they can do so in a competitive marketplace. Algae based production of oil obviously works in the laboratory and has been expanded in volume in a few places. But to scale it up requires a huge amount of space, lots of water and other infrastructure support. Until those challenges can be overcome and allow for mass production, this may not be quite “shovel ready” just yet.


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In case anyone cares, Sapphire Energy in San Diego is one of the companies doing this. The benefit of generating “green crude” over other green energy sources is that it uses the existing infrastructure, and you still end up with combustible products (which are the most efficient sources of fuel.)

AngelRoark on February 25, 2012 at 12:34 PM

From their site…

Algae can be grown quickly in salt water in the desert.

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At what point in the flooding of deserts will the eco-gang freak and stop the whole process? Oh wait I know that one, when a Republican is in the WH and can be squeezed from both side on the issue.
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One of the easiest issues to put a finger on. You want a real problem with this one?
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In the interest of increasing production ‘super algae’ will most certainly be developed. What do you think happens when that stuff escapes into the rivers and oceans?
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I’m not against it as a part of an ‘all the above’ approach. But I do not want to see this one accelerated by the gov dumping money into what I consider a high risk, low potential of return.
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Bottom line… We should take our time on this one.
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RalphyBoy on February 25, 2012 at 12:58 PM

CARB by the way are kooks for electric cars, which is why they place large blocks on natural gas. Have to kill the competitor.

deadite on February 25, 2012 at 12:49 PM

They’ve been trying for a bit to get a natural gas tank that doesn’t explode in an accident. Natural gas is fine for inner city large slow vehicles like buses, but it’s just not ready for our interstate system and may never be.

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Haven’t seen the President’s energy speech yet, but as to the algae/oil, isn’t this the stuff Obama is forcing our navy to contract for at 4x the normal price. This is another government created market.

Wolf Howling on February 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM

This leapt to mind immediately, starting at 1:00. :)

In hunting up this clip, I learned that this was a Krups coffeemaker which was adapted to become a “Mr. Fusion.” Apparently, you can also buy vinyl stickers to make your Krups coffemaker look like one. ROFL!

PatriotGal2257 on February 25, 2012 at 1:26 PM

An interesting technology would be a tire furnace that sequesters all of the bad emissions (I’m not worried about CO2).

blink on February 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I would really love to see this.
There are probably 10s of thousands of old tires around here.

Someone mentioned how ecos would whine about the oceans being ‘polluted’ & I have personally found oceanic scientists I have met to be extremely dogmatic & freakish about anyone harvesting or using resources from the ocean in any way shape or form.
Wildlife biologists feel the same way about their turf & on & on.
NOAA, USGS, USFS ,Game & Fish, all of these types of agencies have been stealthily infiltrated by environmentalists.
You have but to talk with the old still living retirees from those agencies to get a clue just how radically the focus of these agencies has changed over the last several decades.
It’s like the unspoken ban on conservative actors in Hollywood.
If you are known to deviate from the socialist environmental agenda, you will not be considered for employment.
It’s been vigorously pursued.
Even having a farm &/or ranch background in these agencies has blacklisted a lot of talented people.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Take another look at the company’s name. Solazyme. So Lazy Me? Are they mocking us?

Doug Piranha on February 25, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Someone mentioned how ecos would whine about the oceans being ‘polluted’ & I have personally found oceanic scientists I have met to be extremely dogmatic & freakish about anyone harvesting or using resources from the ocean in any way shape or form.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 1:43 PM

I remember when I first heard that natural gas seeps from the ocean floor and if the water is deep enough and cold enough it freezes. Can you imagine harvesting the frozen natural gas on the ocean floor?

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Take another look at the company’s name. Solazyme. So Lazy Me? Are they mocking us?

Doug Piranha on February 25, 2012 at 1:43 PM

LMAO! I never noticed!

Can you imagine harvesting the frozen natural gas on the ocean floor?

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Totally awesome.

I seem to remember some folks were considering mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor rather than conventionally, but the costs were too much.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Good article on the AGW hoax: Lindzen Totally Pwns the Alarmists

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Totally awesome.

I seem to remember some folks were considering mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor rather than conventionally, but the costs were too much.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 1:52 PM

At the time I imagined the stuff piling up down there, but from what we’ve learned about oil eating microbes in the Gulf of Mexico, I figure something eats it.

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 1:55 PM

In her review of Bam’s nominees for the Oscar for Irony MOTUS notes:

“who would’ve ever thought we needed more scum around here? Now that’s IRONIC!”

http://www.michellesmirror.com/2012/02/ebony-and-irony.html

NOBO2012 on February 25, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Democrats: Working hard to find solar energy collectors even less efficient than solar panels.

Hang in there NEWT!

(and while I’m at it) FRED!

29Victor on February 25, 2012 at 2:42 PM

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 1:55 PM

We knew about oil eating microbes for decades down here but not morons. Ixtoc I proved oil eating microbes a long time ago.

Kermit on February 25, 2012 at 2:59 PM

We knew about oil eating microbes for decades down here but not morons. Ixtoc I proved oil eating microbes a long time ago.

Kermit on February 25, 2012 at 2:59 PM

We’ve known about the microbes for decades, but we had no ideal they could process that amount, so I don’t think there are mountains of frozen natural gas at the bottom of the ocean.

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 3:10 PM

mark81150 on February 25, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Of course there was coal gasification/liquifaction. It has been done here as well but emits a lot of CO2, and even when that was okay, cost a lot to make. Sasol did that in South Africa during the embargo of that country. It is not cheap.

Kermit on February 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 3:10 PM

There are no mountains of it, but it is everywhere just below the seabed in deepwater. Drilling encounters it all the time. The problem is being able to capture it without it seeping up everywhere.

Kermit on February 25, 2012 at 3:19 PM

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Ixtoc I in the Bay of Campeche proved that it would all go away within two years, AND that all sealife would rebound in a huge way.

BTW, the supergiant Cantarell Oilfield (larger than Prudhoe Bay or ANWR) in the Bay of Campeche was discovered by a fisherman complaining that his nets were always fouled with crude oil. The field is now named after him.

Kermit on February 25, 2012 at 3:22 PM

What’s wrong with using coal and fission? If oil becomes scarce, then people will buy electric cars.

Problem solved.

blink on February 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Forget the sarc tag, I assume?

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 3:26 PM

What’s wrong with using coal and fission? If oil becomes scarce, then people will buy electric cars.

Problem solved.

blink on February 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Oh, I see what you’re saying. Actually, I was just answering to the “coal” section of your solution when I asked about the sarc tag.

The whole point of my hope was to find an alternative to fossil fuels, which include coal.

Coal is not a renewable resource. Eventually you will run out of places to dig, even if it takes 1,000 years. I’m talking about a perpetual energy source for mankind. Different idea.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Coal is not a renewable resource. Eventually you will run out of places to dig, even if it takes 1,000 years. I’m talking about a perpetual energy source for mankind. Different idea.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 3:32 PM

I think that necessity tends to drive innovation. In todays world ther is simply not a need for alternate energy unless you believe that C02 is a threat to the planet. If and when we run out of fossel fuels then I expect people will adapt as necessary.

Not that I don’t care about future generations, I just question whether we can possibly predict the issues that people will be facing 100 years from now. Can you imagine people from 100 years ago attempting to anticipate and solve the issues of todays world?

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

alternate energy unless you believe that C02 is a threat to the planet. If and when we run out of fossel fuels then I expect people will adapt as necessary.

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

And this is precisely why we don’t need Uncle Scam and his minions to subsidize alternative energy, except for some minimum research so we at least know what the other options are.

Sooner or later the coal & oil supplies will start to run low, and THEN the free market will make ‘alternative’ power viable. Trying to force-feed it down our throats now is just foolishness.

MelonCollie on February 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

I think that necessity tends to drive innovation. In todays world ther is simply not a need for alternate energy unless you believe that C02 is a threat to the planet. If and when we run out of fossel fuels then I expect people will adapt as necessary.

Not that I don’t care about future generations, I just question whether we can possibly predict the issues that people will be facing 100 years from now. Can you imagine people from 100 years ago attempting to anticipate and solve the issues of todays world?

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

No offense, but you’ve got to be kidding!

There are certain applications for which there is no substitute for petroleum/fossil fuels.

Should, God forbid we go through some kind of war-induced Dark Age or a natural calamity such as a massive meteor strike, after which our future progeny may not have the knowhow to do more than just dig for coal, are you suggesting that we use it all NOW, for the entire foreseeable history of humankind, when we have such amazing technology here in the early 21st century?

When we run out of accessible fossil fuels, that makes things tough all around. Or are we the only humans that will ever be, who deserve to have it all, and the devil take the poor souls born in the future?

Or is the plan to stop reproducing, use it all up, and then die? Something tells me people will be having unprotected sex as long as people are around.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Good article on the AGW hoax: Lindzen Totally Pwns the Alarmists

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2012 at 1:53 PM

He’s a very intelligent man.
And quite nice.
I encouraged my students to email some famous climate scientists for a project.
Mr Lindzen was very gracious to my students & very helpful.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Or is the plan to stop reproducing, use it all up, and then die? Something tells me people will be having unprotected sex as long as people are around.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Ahhhh. There was a Stargate episode like that.
Aliens came to save us & were actually there to control our reproduction down to zero so they could have everything.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 5:36 PM

If we can find a way to produce it then it would be worth the effort to find out how???

What is that supposed to mean?

blink on February 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM

It means I worded my thought badly :-)

Let’s try again. I think that the potential benefits may be sufficient to justify publicly funded R&D.

MJBrutus on February 25, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Not that I don’t care about future generations, I just question whether we can possibly predict the issues that people will be facing 100 years from now. Can you imagine people from 100 years ago attempting to anticipate and solve the issues of todays world?

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Great response. Thanks for saving me the time. :)

blink on February 25, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Whale Oil peak is coming, woe is we.

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2012 at 6:31 PM

When we run out of accessible fossil fuels, that makes things tough all around. Or are we the only humans that will ever be, who deserve to have it all, and the devil take the poor souls born in the future?

My argument is simply that we are not about to run out of fossel fuel now or in the forseeable future. I believe that it will become harder to find and extract as time goes on but I also believe that there is much more fossel fuel in the earth than we can imagine. There may be a time in the future when extraction becomes expensive enough that alternative fuels become a cost effective alternative but that time is not now.

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Whale Oil peak is coming, woe is we.

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Oil saved the whale and coal saved the forest.

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 6:38 PM

He’s a very intelligent man.
And quite nice.
I encouraged my students to email some famous climate scientists for a project.
Mr Lindzen was very gracious to my students & very helpful.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 5:34 PM

He is also a man of courage who lives and speaks his principals. I have great admiration for him and Dr Spencer for speaking the truth dispite being branded as heritics by the climate scientific community at large. Congrats to your students.

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Hey, lets pretend the oil we already have just sitting under the ground was made from pond scum and, well, lets just use that.

JellyToast on February 25, 2012 at 6:55 PM

My argument is simply that we are not about to run out of fossel fuel now or in the forseeable future. I believe that it will become harder to find and extract as time goes on but I also believe that there is much more fossel fuel in the earth than we can imagine. There may be a time in the future when extraction becomes expensive enough that alternative fuels become a cost effective alternative but that time is not now.

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 6:36 PM

You’re assuming that life will continue to get easier, and that there can be no possible repeat of the Dark Ages, or worse. Never underestimate man’s ability to destroy himself.

Should we happen to screw up and throw the whole race back to the caveman days, or even just back to the coal days, life will become brutal, and non-air-conditioned.

We are standing upon the shoulders of the giants before us, and it took a long time to get here, and we aren’t balanced really well, either, considering that we have nukes now, unlike all the humans preceding us.

I think our difference is that you’re too optimistic about the chance of unbroken human technological progress, and discount the possibility of a couple thousand years in which humanity may have to rebuild a ruined world, before reaching our current standard of luxury.

Wouldn’t you like to leave as much fossil fuel in the ground as we can, for the mid-long-term future of humanity, if we have the ability now to explore means of renewable energy, whether the short-sighted market is demanding it or not?

It will take quite awhile to create all the fossil fuels from natural processes and Father Time, if we use them all up in the next 700 years and tell all future humans, “tough tittie, live miserably.”

If we can figure out a way to make petroleum products from algae, then damn right we should figure it out now.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 7:09 PM

My argument is simply that we are not about to run out of fossel fuel now or in the forseeable future.

Will we run out in 500 years?

I can foresee 500 years.

If I look backward 500 years, people were sailing ships to America and writing plays.

So the people who will be living 500 years from now aren’t foreseeable? And are you sure that by then they won’t be having to, after an “unforeseeable” societal/technological collapse, try to perform the equivalent of alchemy to “figure it out when they need to?”

I think we just thing different. Yes, I am a pessimist, but also a realist. I would love to see your happy “figure it out later” vision come to pass, and that might be OK if we hadn’t developed nuclear weapons.

Robert Oppenheimer was horrified once he realized what he had done.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 7:13 PM

I am thinking for the future because maybe we won’t blow up the world. And if we don’t, then humans 50 generations from now should have access to the easy energy of fossil fuels, too, if we are able to prevent hogging them all ourselves.

Maybe, instead of me, people who say, “use it up now, and let the market decide, and let future generations cross that bridge,” are the pessimists – the ones who think, “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.”

Why apply the Tragedy of the Commons to the world’s fossil fuels, if we can think our way past it?

Food for thought:

The Tragedy of the Commons (an essay written in 1968 by Garrett Hardin, but incorporating the ideas of Thucydides and Aristotle)

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Will we run out in 500 years?

I can foresee 500 years.

If I look backward 500 years, people were sailing ships to America and writing plays.

So the people who will be living 500 years from now aren’t foreseeable? And are you sure that by then they won’t be having to, after an “unforeseeable” societal/technological collapse, try to perform the equivalent of alchemy to “figure it out when they need to?”

I think we just thing different. Yes, I am a pessimist, but also a realist. I would love to see your happy “figure it out later” vision come to pass, and that might be OK if we hadn’t developed nuclear weapons.

Robert Oppenheimer was horrified once he realized what he had done.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 7:13 PM

I know that known reserves on earth are expected to last at least 500 years. I think there is much more unknown reserves yet to be discovered than known. I think people of the future will do what they need to do to provide the energy they require and we cannot posibly comprehend what those requirements will be. I think if someone invents a cheaper source of energy tommorow, that makes fossil fuels obsolete then we will soon stop using fossil fuels and that person becomes very wealthy.

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Algae farms will be (a) close to shore and (b) endangering critical habitat. One of the things algae does is to siphon oxygen from water, and the lack of oxygenated water is associated with many fish kills. And, given that most fish also love to live close to shore….

unclesmrgol on February 25, 2012 at 7:45 PM

I seem to remember some folks were considering mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor rather than conventionally, but the costs were too much.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 1:52 PM

What a hoot. I find it funny that cover story still exists.

Mining manganese nodules from the sea floor was the cover story concocted by the CIA to explain the “Glomar Explorer”……which was the ship that recovered a Soviet submarine (K-129) during Project Azorian.

BobMbx on February 25, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Algae farms will be (a) close to shore and (b) endangering critical habitat. One of the things algae does is to siphon oxygen from water, and the lack of oxygenated water is associated with many fish kills. And, given that most fish also love to live close to shore….

unclesmrgol on February 25, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Maybe they need to build a supersized one of these.

RickB on February 25, 2012 at 8:29 PM

That photo looks like “Eat your pea soup.” It suits Obama perfectly.

onlineanalyst on February 25, 2012 at 8:46 PM

An interesting technology would be a tire furnace that sequesters all of the bad emissions (I’m not worried about CO2).

blink on February 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Thermal depolymerization.
The tech is proven and viable. They actually did a demo with old tires in a landfill about 10 years ago. But the company didn’t make it for economic (funding and timing) and political (environmentally incorrect) reasons.

The neat thing about TDP is that you can put anything carbon-based in one end and get oil, gas, and chemicals out the other end. It mimics the natural process of petroleum creation, only speeding it up to happen in days instead of billions of years.

YehuditTX on February 25, 2012 at 8:55 PM

“investments”? Barry means that his various czars are funneling public tax dollars *into* pond-scum technology, right? So how much of my/our money is he talking about?

minnesoter on February 25, 2012 at 9:06 PM

The fact this President would tell an intelligent, educated audience that the potential for this technology is more worthy of our focus than the supposed “safe” and “responsible” regulations preventing further development of our petro fields tells you all you want to know about this man’s intelligence–or what he thinks about the intelligence of the people who made up his audience–or both.

rwenger43 on February 25, 2012 at 9:08 PM

I think people of the future will do what they need to do to provide the energy they require and we cannot posibly comprehend what those requirements will be. I think if someone invents a cheaper source of energy tommorow, that makes fossil fuels obsolete then we will soon stop using fossil fuels and that person becomes very wealthy.

steel guy on February 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM

But I don’t think that that will happen by itself. It will be cheaper, in the short term, to use the fossil fuels until they run out.

It will take a government body to make this happen. Government is useful for certain things.

Otherwise, I guarantee you, 100%, that man would have never landed on the moon, and we would have never gained the myriad offshoot technological benefits discovered along the way.

Men were not just going to go to the moon, because the market made them do so.

Governments – specifically Adolf Hitler, got that all going.

Private men didn’t.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 9:53 PM

Not to dis Robert Goddard, by the way – the American who invented modern rocket flight – but he was ridiculed his whole career, and the U.S. government laughed at him. Not until Hitler’s machine came along did a government make it all happen.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 9:55 PM

Consider how big a pond to replace 1% of the world’s oil each year ….

tarpon on February 25, 2012 at 11:12 PM

If they say it can be used in food, I’m going to equate it with ethanol, which is bad.

Can we just switch to methanol now please, and let the bullcrap artists pretend we live in a Star Trek timeline.

John Kettlewell on February 25, 2012 at 11:34 PM

But you’ve already admitted that you don’t have much of an understanding for this type of issue. So, what makes you think that your qualified to determine the potential benefits (and costs) with respect to justifying the use of our tax dollars?

blink on February 25, 2012 at 9:04 PM

My remarks were intended to be more general in nature. When there is reason to believe that the potential exists, I think that government has a role to play in basic research. I can’t weigh in strongly on this particular technology because of my ignorance.

MJBrutus on February 26, 2012 at 1:44 AM

But I don’t think that that will happen by itself. It will be cheaper, in the short term, to use the fossil fuels until they run out.

It will take a government body to make this happen. Government is useful for certain things.

Otherwise, I guarantee you, 100%, that man would have never landed on the moon, and we would have never gained the myriad offshoot technological benefits discovered along the way.

Men were not just going to go to the moon, because the market made them do so.

Governments – specifically Adolf Hitler, got that all going.

Private men didn’t.

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 9:53 PM

-
Careful with that moon shot analogy… We haven’t gone back in what ~40 years now? It was a great accomplishment so far as bragging rights go, but it was also just about as big a rush into a blind ally dead end as I’ve ever seen.
-

RalphyBoy on February 26, 2012 at 1:55 AM

There shouldn’t be much worry about running out of fossil fuels for a long time. There will still be plenty of oil a hundred years from now and by then there will be all kinds of alternatives. So WTF is the problem?

tbear44 on February 26, 2012 at 3:26 AM

cane_loader on February 25, 2012 at 9:53 PM

The problem I have with governments getting involved where they shouldn’t is you end up with things like ethenol. We are forced to buy this inferior product which takes as much energy to grow, distill and bring to market as you get out of it. It’s also bad for your motor and reduces our food supply. Near as I can tell the only ones who benifits from ethenol are the people who get rich producing it because of government interference in the market.
In the end market forces may be delayed but they will not be denied.

steel guy on February 26, 2012 at 7:46 AM

The lack of developing our oil/gas sources in this country along with the government’s financial support of alternative products
is nothing more than a scam. Check out who owns or has stock in these new sources. Also take a look at Al Gore’s participation.

Besides that, how many oil and gas “owners” if you will are
democrat? I would think not many. Obama rid the democratic
party of rich republican donor auto dealers (yes, that is what
it was all about).

I say follow the money!

Amjean on February 26, 2012 at 8:19 AM

BTW – check out oil production in South Dakota. I have a few
new clients in that state and while talking to their bank
representative learned that because of this, other businesses
are booming!

Amjean on February 26, 2012 at 8:20 AM

BTW – check out oil production in South Dakota. I have a few
new clients in that state and while talking to their bank
representative learned that because of this, other businesses
are booming!

Amjean on February 26, 2012 at 8:20 AM

I never did get why oil companies are so demonized. They provide an important product to consumers and are vital to our economy. They make less money on each gallon of gas sold than the government does and yet we are supposed to be mad at the oil companies?

steel guy on February 26, 2012 at 8:43 AM

CARB by the way are kooks for electric cars, which is why they place large blocks on natural gas. Have to kill the competitor.

deadite on February 25, 2012 at 12:49 PM

They’ve been trying for a bit to get a natural gas tank that doesn’t explode in an accident. Natural gas is fine for inner city large slow vehicles like buses, but it’s just not ready for our interstate system and may never be.

DFCtomm on February 25, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Oh, please. The storage technology will not get significantly better than what it currently is (and has not improved significantly over the last decade). CARBs efforts have been to assure that there are no significant emissions due to unforeseen circumstances.

Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) require the manufacturers of aftermarket systems to certify that their conversion systems meet emissions and onboard vehicle diagnostics interface requirements. EPA and CARB can levy substantial fines for violating this requirement, since it is against the law to tamper with emissions systems on vehicles if the result is greater emissions.

However, it seems that there has been some effort to streamline conversion kits. Streamlined from a govt agency may be a joke. I’ll have to look into that…

deadite on February 26, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Totally awesome.

I seem to remember some folks were considering mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor rather than conventionally, but the costs were too much.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 1:52 PM

That was actually a CIA cover.
They adapted a ship called the Glomar Explorer under the news cover that they were going to harvest manganese but they really sent it out to recover a sunken USSR nuke sub.

And they did bring up the sailors and bury them I imagine with other intel.

esnap on February 26, 2012 at 1:23 PM

The government need not try to help discover new energy sources, the greedy private sector will do it in it’s own self interest. “the invisible hand”

Algae carries on photosynthesis just like corn but the limiting factor of anything that needs sun light is the sunlight which is approx 1000 watts/square meter (at the equator at noon)

So far PV is the most efficient way we have to reap the sun but it has it’s own inefficiencies.

Corn ethanol requires more energy to produce a quantity than that quantity will produce.

Algea will be 10 times worse than corn.

esnap on February 26, 2012 at 1:38 PM

my ignorance.

MJBrutus on February 26, 2012 at 1:44 AM

Don’t forget your lack of integrity. That is mj essence.

tom daschle concerned on February 26, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Funny thing about this. Obama promotes algae, solar and wind energy, even though none of those ideas are even close to meeting our current needs.

At the same time, he scoffs at “drill baby drill” because it will take years for the new wells to yield oil.

Can you say disconnect?

hawksruleva on February 27, 2012 at 10:42 AM

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