Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Exploring Algae as Fuel

In San Diego California a biotech company called Sapphire Energy is trying to use algae as a source of energy. These algae are being genetically modified and pitted against each other to speed up the evolution of the more fit strains. The reasoning for this is to produce super algae which convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into lipids and oils which can be refined into diesel or jet fuel. Not only Sapphire Energy, but dozens of companies and Universities are trying to transform algae to make green energy. These strains of algae are of interest because they can potentially produce ten times more fuel per acre than corn or soybeans. These algae consume carbon dioxide at a very high rate as well, so the potentially can help keep greenhouse gasses in check. Because some of these techniques involve the splicing of genes into the algae, there is some opposition to this technology by scientists and government, but people in favor of the technology as well some who are critical of biotech seem unworried by engineered algae. With $200 million dollars raised from investors like Bill Gates and government funding, the three year old company Sapphire Energy seems to have the best shot at unlocking this technology. There is alot of alternative ways to get energy in development. Many people think that the government is only commited to getting energy from old technologies, but that is not the case. The 100 million dollar government grant to Sapphire Energy is proof in the matter.
-John Curran

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