globalEDGE Blog: From Algae to Crude Oil

From Algae to Crude Oil

In recent findings, scientists have discovered how to turn a stream of algae into bio-crude oil, a  possible game changer for the role oil plays in global business and global dependencies. The high-tech pressure cooker that reaches temperatures around 660 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch, is licensed by a Utah-based biofuel company Genifuel, who are now working with industrial partners to build a pilot plant.

This new development has immeasurable affects on the energy industry around the world. As of right now countries are dependent on each other leading to countries having control over others. If this technology were developed and made headway producing mass amounts of crude oil, counties would now be self sustaining. For example with the United States, right now the U.S. is dependent on the oil provided from other countries, causing them to have an influence on the decisions of the U.S. If the United States harnessed this technology, they would be solely dependent on themselves, with the crude oil developed from algae, along with the North American Pipelines.  In entirety this could cause a drastic shift in the powers and influences in the oil industry.

The process of converting algae into crude oil is a renewable resource, verses non-renewable ways of developing crude oil used presently. After being in the cooker for around one hour, the process creates: crude oil, which can be converted to aviation, gasoline, or diesel fuel (50- 70 percent of the algae's carbon is converted to energy in crude oil); clean water is also generated, which can be re-used to grow more algae; fuel gas, burned to generate electricity or cleaned to make natural gas; and other nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the key ingredients for growing algae. Nothing in this process goes to waste and can be recycled to restart the procedure from the beginning. This has renowned benefits on the globe itself and a large impact on the way things are done currently in the energy industry.

Previous attempts at converting algae into crude oil have fail due to their high costs, but this new process has a much lower price tag, leading it to be a great contender for changing the way the world energy industry is run. Many people are concerned about the factor the large oil companies, who have a monopoly over the industry, will play in the new development. As well as the fact of where countries would find the needed area to grow the mass amounts of algae required if this process is to succeed. Share your thoughts in a comment below.

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