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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

New Firm to Develop Algae-Based Fuel

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A new company called AXI, LLC is looking to develop next-generation algae that makes the production of biodiesel more economical. Specifically, the company looks to algae as

[having] the potential for producing vast quantities of biostock for conversion into biofuels for transportation and heating. Our proprietary methodology for developing specific growth and productivity traits will help any algae production system improve its output of inexpensive, oil-rich algae as the raw material for the production of biofuel.

Further information about the company, as seen on AXI’s company profile is as follows:

AXI is a University of Washington spin-out Company created in partnership with the founders, the University and Allied Minds, Inc.  Allied Minds is a seed investment company creating partnerships with key Universities to fund corporate spin-offs resulting from successful early stage technology research.

This is interesting, as I have documented that algae may be one of the most promising “alternative” energy source in development (see prior posts “Algae Based Biofuels Are The¬†Future“, and more recently “Alternative Fuels“).

Also, it is an example of the type of firms that venture capital has been flooding to, as I discussed in a June 10th post.

Written by walonline

August 15, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Alternative Fuels

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Popular Mechanics offers a look at the most promising alternative fuels being developed.

  • Cellulosic Ethanol–Biological Method
  • Cellulosic Ethanol–Gasification Method
  • Algal Biodiesel
  • Green Gasoline
  • Biobutanol
  • Designer Hydrocarbons
  • Fourth-Generation Fuel

What is interesting to note is that none of these alternatives has been rolled out on a large enough scale to matter, yet. This is why it is very important to supplement our R & D of alternatives with new oil well development. Also, those in favor of wind use will first need to develop a 21st century energy grid to transfer power to where its needed both from wind and whatever other method is being used to make up any slack (ie when the wind isn’t blowing).

Of these, I’m in favor of the algal biodiesel, which I’ve talked about before.

Written by walonline

August 13, 2008 at 9:46 am

Algae Based Biofuels Are The Future

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As noted a number of times previously at this blog (recently and in April), Corn and other plant-based (in this context meaning seed, dirt, sprout, etc.) biofuels are not efficient. The are horrible polices that help politicians get elected, but ruin all sorts of markets.

The blog Triplepundit has a very interesting article on biofuel that could potentially help our fuel issues with the benefits of far less-destructive environmental and world food market effects. Here are some of the Algae details:

It also produces lipids, or the equivalent of vegetable oil. Depending on the species, 50% of it’s body weight is these lipids. And they can select for certain algae strains that are particularly suited for making jet fuel or diesel, which most long haul trucks use.

[…]

Algae, even in a regular, horizontal, open pond system, can produce up to 20,000 gallons of oil per year.

Based on previous parts of the article, this system is assumed to take up one acre of land, as comparisons have been 18/gallons from corn and 700-800 from palm oil. All of the waste can be reused as well:

With algae biofuel production, they can take what remains after extracting the oil, and put it to use as feed stock for animals, as a component of fertilizer, and even to produce even more biofuel.

I believe most people would be in favor of fuel that is cleaner on a lifecycle basis, and has less of a wide-ranging impact. Algae, at this point, looks to do just that, and would be a very valuable addition to our nation’s energy “portfolio.”

Written by walonline

July 31, 2008 at 8:16 am

Wow (Sunset on Mars)

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The Sun is a lot smaller one planet further away. Its amazing how the light diffuses to brighten the surface, much more than here (unless its a hazy evening).

Very cool.

(photo from NASA, hat tip: Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit)

Written by walonline

June 9, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Scientists Discover Most Recent Super-Nova

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Via Wired.com’s liveblog by Alexis Madrigal:

Most Recent Super-Nova

And an excerpt:

Scientists using a combination of radio and X-rays have found the most recent supernova remnant observed in our galaxy, located about 26,000 light-years from here. It’s the youngest, most energetic supernova we know and could shed light on just exactly how the stardust we’re made of — heavier elements and all — gets created.

Cool.

Written by walonline

May 15, 2008 at 12:37 am