Over at Green Blog, New York Times reporter Matthew Wald (click the image to the left to go to his report and the illustration below to go to the company’s website) writes about
…two companies that are racing to be first in commercial-scale production of motor fuel from nonfood sources. A large group of other companies is pursuing various other strategies, one or two steps behind. One of those companies is planning to use algae.The company, SEE Algae Technology of Austria, is building a 2.5-acre factory on a sugar plantation near Recife, Brazil, that will use genetically modified algae that can eat carbon dioxide from the sugar. Adding urea and some nutrients, the algae excrete ethanol.
The path to profitability, according to the company, is raising the amount of algae produced per unit of area. Algae grows in ponds, but that turns out to require a lot of space: sunlight does not penetrate more than a couple of inches, so the ponds must have big surfaces. The problem is that the carbon dioxide injected to promote algae growth tends to escape from a big surface.