Engineers have created a chemical process that produces useful crude oil just minutes after engineers pour in harvested algae -- a verdant green paste with the consistency of pea soup. The PNNL team combined several chemical steps into one continuous process that starts with an algae slurry that contains as much as 80 to 90 percent water.
"Not having to dry the algae is a big win in this process; that cuts the cost a great deal," said Douglas Elliott. "Then there are bonuses, like being able to extract usable gas from the water and then recycle the remaining water and nutrients to help grow more algae, which further reduces costs."
"It's a formidable challenge, to make a biofuel that is cost-competitive with established petroleum-based fuels," James Oyler, president of Genifuel added. "This is a huge step in the right direction."
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