Just last week I was gushing about all of the press algae biofuel had been getting, and without even a single company with a commercial scale plant online.
Well, apparently folks could smell the green sludge on the horizon because Green Fuel Technologies just announced they had begun construction of their commercial scale algae plant while PetroSun announced they'd be taking their pilot algae farm commercial on April 1st.
Now, this obviously isn't ethanol, with millions of gallons of production...or even cellulosic ethanol, with a wood-waste to fuel plant ready to go online this year, but it is a big deal.
It's a big deal because algae don't just create energy from the sun...they create energy from the sun more effectively than anything else save photovoltaic panels. And, as you may have guessed, they're a heck of a lot cheaper than photovoltaic panels. Green Fuel Technologies is adding another environmental advantage, planning to hook their algae bioreactors up to the smoke stacks from power plants.
So the algae will be using the sun to turned burned fuel back into fuel. Theoretically, this could become a closed loop. Burn Fuel...feed exhaust to algae...harvest algae for fuel...burn fuel...etc.
PetroSun's facility on the other hand, has 1,100 acres of open ponds growing algae in Texas. Open ponds are cheaper, but it's more difficult to control which species of algae are growing, so less productive strains often take over. Also, you can't feed your crop with CO2 straight from a power plant.