Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Overview of the Future

Texas. "Big deal," you say.

Land of oil and tycoons thereof. A Gulf Coast of refineries. These images are stolen from Google Maps, but since this blog is hosted on Google anyway, is it not infringement to post them here?

I learned about this from a press release here. I've been following this company's progress on this matter for a year now, but I have not known how they would do it. Turns out, in this case at least, they are using regular saltwater ponds instead of the fancy, and not necessarily expensive from what I can see, vertical plastic containers that I admire so much in this posting about a different company's efforts.

Lots of folks are understandably doubtful about the economic feasibility of this. Some look skeptically on companies that repeatedly put out press releases and don't have anything really going on. Well now, at least we can say, this company that has been repeatedly putting out press releases does have something going on. And I didn't even know about this farm until today. I had known about their experimental facility in Opelika, Alabama, and the large commercial facility to be built in Coolidge, Arizona. And I am somewhat disturbed to see that this farm uses the open pond process that was rejected as unfeasible by the U.S. Government's Aquatic Species Program (summary downloadable as a 3MB PDF).

Well, I guess we will find out within a year or two whether it is feasible, thanks in large part to this company's efforts. Maybe they'll show us it doesn't work. Or maybe they'll make mistakes that others can learn from. Or maybe it will work and we'll wish we'd bought the stock now.

Ah, can you smell it? On a hog farm video shoot where we were all overwhelmed by that telltale smell of hell on earth, a veterinarian there said "That's the smell of money." I hope the world comes to know a new smell of money. If growing algae one way or another does work, I think it will be the best form of alternative energy. The general line on algae farming is that you can grow 20 thousand gallons of vegetable oil from it per acre per year, making it far better than palm trees which grow maybe 700 gallons per acre per year, or land crops which grow maybe 30 gallons per acre per year. Growing our own oil for transportation use would be carbon neutral and would relieve us from converting all our vehicles to electric power. It is said that even hydrogen fuel cells are a less efficient way to carry around energy than petroleum.

No comments: