Talk:CH391L/S13/Algal Biofuels

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  • Kevin Baldridge 16:49, 18 March 2013 (EDT):What are you referring to with "photosynthetic efficiency"? You say sugarcane is the best, but algae actually have more energy per mass. So what is the final product which you are comparing, simple sugars which can be converted to alcoholic biofuels?
    • Gabriel Wu 17:12, 18 March 2013 (EDT): Agreed. You're comparing sugar content in corn and sugarcane to lipid production in algae, but you compare them directly. This could use some further clarification.
  • Catherine I. Mortensen 16:57, 18 March 2013 (EDT): Is it possible to somehow use chlorella that already exists in the ocean to produce fuel?
    • Aurko Dasgupta 17:42, 18 March 2013 (EDT): I doubt that ocean algae consistently grows in a concentration high enough to justify the energy required to power the extraction. They're also wild, so they're not as optimized for any specific feature of biofuel production.
      • Thomas Wall 21:12, 18 March 2013 (EDT):Ok this is a pretty picture of an algal bloom near where I used to work [1] as far as natural occuring algae this guy is the best I've heard of [2]
  • Gabriel Wu 17:17, 18 March 2013 (EDT): Can you cover a little more of the molecular biology? How are algae actually genetically engineered to improve lipid content? Which pathways are targeted and is there heterologous expression of genes to optimize these pathways?
    • Max E. Rubinson 11:25, 21 March 2013 (EDT): I think maybe you should also include a discussion of how strains with truncated light-harvesting antenna are engineered? This paper describes how the Melis lab generated strains of green algae that exhibit a truncated Chl antenna.
    • Thomas Wall 21:25, 21 March 2013 (EDT): Also I think you should have some mention of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Here is the patent my old company had on the process [3]
  • Jeffrey E. Barrick 22:53, 20 March 2013 (EDT):People often mention "red tide" when talking about algal biofuels. A possible danger of growing large vats of algae is that they may produce toxic compounds. Did you encounter that in any of the articles?
  • Yunle Huang 10:04, 21 March 2013 (EDT):How are the biofuels actually collected? Are the cells just lysed, or is there an extraction method that keeps the cells alive?
  • Dwight Tyler Fields 12:59, 21 March 2013 (EDT):You might also want to include a "Future of Algal Biofuels" section that gives current scientific opinion on the future viability of the field. I'm finding a mostly negative outlook, ex: [4]
  • Neil R Gottel 15:08, 21 March 2013 (EDT):I really love the idea of coupling a coal power plant to a nearby closed algae biofuel production facility. The carbon is ran twice (lower emissions), and the algae are more efficient due to the increased CO2 concentration (less land area). Plus, you get both electricity and liquid fuels out of this scheme. Unfortunately I can't find actual research papers on coupling coal and algae, only blog posts and news articles...
    • Benjamin Gilman 19:28, 21 March 2013 (EDT): I'm having a hard time finding anything specific about it too, but I know there was a pilot plant set up in CA or AZ that used algae to trap about 5% of the CO2 output of a small natural gas power plant. Land use was still a huge issue, because the algae tanks covered much more area than the plant but didn't actually use most of the emissions. One argument has been that this kind of arrangement might help subsidize the cost of algal bio fuels if emitting carbon starts costing significant amounts of money (as in a carbon credit trading scheme).
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