Tip of the hat to reader Paul Lee for keeping us up to speed on a post we put up in June of last year. Watching "Modern Marvels" on the History Channel, recently, Paul saw an episode featuring a Greenfuels and Arizona Public Services project where algae were cultivated using stack gases from a 1000 megawatt natural gas-fired plant as nutrient input. Based on the pilot test, it's estimated that two hundred acres would be needed to grow enough algae to completely negate the carbon output of the plant (up to 150 tons of CO2/acre). Via the Energy Blog: "Once enough algae is grown, it is harvested, and its starches are turned into ethanol; its lipids into biodiesel; and its protein into high-grade food for livestock or returned to the algae farm as nutrients". The next step, apparently, is to produce a full-scale design.Algae are among the most primitive of plants, and, of course, were profligate in the earth's waters during the Carboniferous Period when coal, petroleum, and natural gas were formed. The hallmark of this project is that, having found that we've taken excess fossil fuels out of the earth's bowels to power our lives, and are reshaping the planet as a result, we've designed a process for algae to dine on the remains of its evolutionary cohorts--for the purpose of preventing a return to the environmental conditions of the Carboniferous Period. Nice touch!
A semantic rethink may be in order. Is this destined to be a power plant with an algae-powered stack scrubber? Or is it evolving toward a power plant/alga-culture symbiosis?