Posts Tagged ‘#Bioenergy’

Biodiesel Farm Circa 2025

America, 2025: The dream of an energy independent nation has finally been realized.

And what has allowed us to shed the burden of foreign oil addiction? Has Alaskan drilling yielded enough oil to sustain the nation? Solar powered cars, or a conversion to hydrogen or electric as the national fuel standard? Perhaps cold fusion?

No, the answer to our energy independence has come from a rather simple source: algae. The same green plague that afflicts your fish tanks and swimming pools has been a boon for new and inexpensive sources of energy.

There are many benefits of using Algae to create biofuels. Algae propagates incredibly quickly and in almost any climate, as long as sunlight and CO2 are present, meaning it can grow in places where Soy, Canola, Chinese Tallow and Peanuts cannot. It also yields more biofuel-per-acre of land than any other bioenergy crop, to the tune of 7-to-30 fold.

The widespread use of biofuel has done wonders to curb greenhouse gas emissions as well. Burning algal biodiesel emits less CO2 than burning the equivalent amount of fossil diesel, and the algae used in producing the fuel consumes copious amounts of the greenhouse gas as it grows and matures. In fact, many algae farms are situated in industrial parks, near greenhouse spewing factories.

The yield-per-acre of algae-based fuels also has the side-effect of beginning to curb rampant deforestation at home and abroad. Less forests are being clearcut to provide farmland to grow soy and other fuel crops, even in developing nations that have been cutting corners for decades trying to catch up the the US, Japan and the EU.

The airline industry has begun to rebound from its two-decade spiral following 9/11. The rising price of fossil oil and increased security concerns combined to raise the cost and decrease the quality of air travel, and while security unfortunately remains a risk, the lower cost of algal jet fuels has led to a more reasonable cost for consumers and larger profits for airlines.

The American car industry is also rebounding. American car companies have suffered ever since the late 90s, when they gambled that gas prices would stay low and kept churning out massive gas-guzzling SUVs. Unfortunately for them gas prices sky-rocketed by the 2000s and the market trended towards economical cars. American companies jumped on the biofuel bandwagon early, though, and rolled out lines of biodiesel and biogasoline burning cars before Japan could muscle them out.

Now, I have to admit, I fibbed a bit earlier when I said the US is officially energy independent. Unfortunately I don’t think energy independence will every be truly attainable, but we have managed to go from cripplingly dependent on foreign fossil oil, to moderately dependent. Two thirds of our fossil oil is produced domestically, in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. And most of our coal comes from the hills of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Perhaps in another ten or fifteen years, as more vehicles convert to biofuel, and industrial buildings convert to solar, we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil to 10% or less. And perhaps, just perhaps, we can one day achieve complete energy independence.


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