New Algae Biofuel from Sapphire Energy "Chemically Identical to Gasoline"

photo: Jurvetson/CC BY
'Green Crude' Milestone
In what it calls its most significant milestone yet, Sapphire Energy , claims it has succeeded in refining a high-octane gasoline from algae that is chemically identical to crude oil. According to Sapphire Energy, "The resulting gasoline is completely compatible with current infrastructure, meaning absolutely no change to consumer's cars." This is of course in addition to the benefit that their Green Crude is a carbon neutral fuel.
According to the original article in The Guardian, Sapphire won't reveal exactly what sort of algae they are using, but it is suspected that they are using a genetically-modified cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).

Sapphire believes it will be able to make commercial quantities of this fuel within three to five years.

'Completely Compatible with Current Infrastructure'
Assuming that Sapphire succeeds in making commercial quantities of their 'green crude'--and considering the recent influx of cash into the firm, the money is certainly there to make that possible--is maintaining our current transportation infrastructure really an environmentally good thing to do?

Obviously, our petro-coal-natural gas addiction is leading us down the dirty path to an increasingly inhospitable (perhaps fatal) future. But will simply swapping petro-based gasoline with 'green crude' address the other interconnected environmental problems we currently face?

Switching to cleaner energy does nothing directly to address over consumption of natural resources, biodiversity loss & habitat destruction, the gross land-use disaster that is suburban sprawl, and soil degradation resulting from destructive agricultural practices. Nor will it address the 10,000 pound elephant in the environmental room: Unchecked population growth.

While of course it's expected that Sapphire Energy will tout its green crude as the source of energy enlightenment, and it certainly could have a large impact on reducing the impact of climate change, in much of the world it's our current civic infrastructure and consumption patterns themselves which are a large part of the environmental problem.

Before anyone comes down on me as a 'negative nancy', from a biofuel perspective this development is good news. However, let's not lose sight of the bigger environmental picture.

It's a step in the right direction, but alone 'green crude' is not enough. Greater changes are required to make a post-carbon future a reality.

via :: The Guardian and :: Sapphire Energy
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Tags: Biofuels | Energy | Renewable Energy