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Thread: Algae Fuel for the future??

  1. #1 Algae Fuel for the future?? 
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    Aug 2008
    I want to make a car fueled on hydrogen. I understand algae produces high volumes of oxygen and grows at a remarkable rate. If algae is denied sulphur in its diet, apparently it produces hydrogen. The links I gave show some of the research they have done in the field. I want to know why an algae fuel cell is not a viable, even profitable, way of clean renewable energy. It would almost be a closed system. Algae gets sun light from solar panels and fibre optics. The algae grows. Salt water, or fresh water, or agar or whatever the medium is replenished with new salt/fresh at intervals providing nutrients required for algal growth. Excess algae is carbon based, and is sumped for ignition and sustained acceleration/burn, almost like a biodiesel. Car switches of, algae continues to grow and produces oxygen because sulfur is returned to diet. Car switches on, no sulfur, hydrogen produced. I don't know if or how it might work, but it's a theory. Is it possible, if not necessarily probable?

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  3. #2  
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    Sep 2007
    What about nitrogen. Would you suggest the Haber process?

    You may be interested in the thread 'synthetic photosynthesis' in the biology forum.

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  4. #3 Algae fuel for the future? 
    Forum Sophomore Vaedrah's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Interesting idea - I guess this another variant on a solar powered car but based on a biological process. I have read that hydrogen can be produced by heating water to extremely high temperatures and this would require a solar concentrator (lens etc) to attain these temperature, I also understand that electrolysis can be used. I wonder how does the energy input to hydrogen production ratio compare between the various methods.

    Hydrogen appears to be an excellent fuel for transport (and heating) but I guess that it should be combined with the oxygen released from any conversion process so that nitrogen oxide/dioxide is not produced. Does the algae process also generate oxygen. If not, then external air would be needed and as this contains a majority of nitrogen atoms, the generation of unwanted poisonous nitrogen compounds arising from high combustion temperatures may well occur.

    So I am interested both in the calorific conversion efficiency between algae, high temperature, electrolysis and solar panel process. Also, the relative "cleanliness" of each approach.

    (I guess that "cleanliness should probably also include the environmental cost of production processes and subsequent disposal - for example "energy efficient" fluorescent light bulbs save electricity compared to incandescent lamps but contain mercury and this is poisonous - LED's are far better in my view and I seem to remember some units being equivalent to 50 watt incandescents in terms of light output)
    "The sky cannot speak of the ocean, the ocean cannot speak of the land, the land cannot speak of the stars, the stars cannot speak of the sky"
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