The video above is a short news clip about PetroAlgae, a company in Florida attempting to make fuel from algae. What is interesting about PetroAlgae is their method of extracting oil from the algae. They use a high speed centrifuge. PetroAlgae claims their method of growing and extracting algae oil is able to make fuel at a price competitive with gasoline. However, their goal is to use the algae to create electricity rather than power cars. An interview today in the Orlando Sentinal with Fred Tennant, the Vice President of product development at PetroAlgae, yielded the following tidbits:
What's the problem?The question I have is what is more efficient; extracting and then refining the oil like PetroAlgae or just throwing it in the gasifier like David James?
It's expensive. Tom Byrne, on the board of directors of the nonprofit Algal Biomass Organization, said a pilot plant can cost from $50 million to $100 million, but as long as petroleum stays above $50 a barrel, algae can be competitive.
How's the oil harvested?
The algae are grown to their maximum density -- when their water turns a deep forest green, either in open pools or closed systems encased in plastic tubes or tanks. The water is drained and the paste is milled to separate the oil from its "meal." The crude oil is then refined at a biodiesel facility.