Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why Algae, not Electric?

I just got this article through my newsfeeds: Just color San Diego algae green in research - SignOnSanDiego.com

It's about how algae are being examined as a possible chemical fuel source, the sort that could replace ethanol or petrol as a chemical fuel. It's advantage - it can be used as an immediate substitute it with minimal modifications and get all the fuels we're used to.

But why not go electric instead? Shouldn't that be more eco-friendly, since there's less emission?

Here's the problem with electric, and it's twofold. As the article states, electric batteries can't run trucks and airplanes. Furthermore, where does electricity come from? From coal and other fossil fuel plants. Instead of burning the fuels directly, we're just passing on the problem higher up the energy chain.

Finally, my own thought - a lot of the batteries we depend on to run electric vehicles are composed of toxic heavy metals. What do we do with them when we're done using them?

Algae oil sounds like it might be a neat alternative, but I also want to see more studies on how it might affect the ecology of the areas in which it is grown and refined.

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