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Published on September 3rd, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz


Researchers Creating Algae Aviation Fuel

September 3rd, 2008 by  


Algae fuel is getting another boost with the announcement of a $3 million grant to create kerosene-based aviation fuel derived from the substance.

Arizona State University researchers have already moved past the laboratory stage on the project and are working on a pilot scale production system. The research team says that cost reduction benefits are greater than with kerosene produced from petroleum.

The researchers came up with the new fuel by identifying algae strains that can convert pieces of their cellular mass into oil containing high concentrations of medium chain fatty acids. The hydrocarbon chains that occur when the oil is deoxygenated are similar to those found in traditional kerosene.

According to the ASU researchers, their kerosene provides a competitive advantage because it eliminates an expensive thermal cracking process which is necessary for traditional kerosene production.

The new algae kerosene fuel is compatible with jet planes when mixed with a small amount of fuel additives.

And with the increasing speed of new developments in algae fuel, we may all be driving around in algae-powered cars and flying algae-powered planes within the next few decades.

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

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