Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Truly Green Alternative Fuel

After searching online for airfare deals for Thanksgiving trip (they don't exist, trust me), I am officially 100% in support of anything that makes air travel less expensive. Even jet fuel made from algae.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a piece today about a Bay Area company, Solazyme, that has found a way to turn algae into jet fuel. The process is described as follows:

"The company genetically modifies algae from around the world to consume a wide range of feedstocks, such as wood chips, switchgrass and sawdust. When the algae consume more of these substances than they immediately need, they produce oil as an energy storage mechanism. "

Given that we are already making cellulosic fuel from things like wood chips and sawdust, the algae kind of seems like a middle-man here, but I'm certain there has to be more to the process that makes the algae an important piece of the equation.

Solazyme President Harrison Dillon notes that the fuel has passed all of the required test to be used for jet fuel.
However, ne note of caution to Mr. Dillon: When you'r trying to sell the public on a revolutionary new alternative fuel such as one derived from algae, don' ever, ever say, "Planes will fall out of the sky if you don't have a high-quality fuel that meets strict standards." People will be much less likely to accept your product, your assurances about its quality nothwithstanding.