"Algae Could Become Reliable Jet Fuel Source"

"Seawater algae -- a cousin to pond scum -- may someday become a significant source of fuel for military jets and airliners, and at the same time rejuvenate farmlands where tumbleweeds fill old irrigation ditches and abandoned cotton gins bake in the Texas sun.

Algae farmers conceivably could become the newest breed of Texas oilmen. For now, that's still a very big 'if.' Several scientific and technical obstacles must be overcome before the tiny plantlike organisms, which create unsightly rings on boat hulls and slime on fish tanks, can be turned into a viable fuel.

But interest in renewable fuels is growing. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu recently announced plans to invest nearly $800 million into developing the next generation of cleaner-burning biofuels, which he described as 'key to our effort to end our dependence of foreign oil and address the climate crisis.' It's the newest evidence of interest in biofuels.

For the U.S. military, developing a reliable source of jet fuel, not subject to the volatility of the global crude oil market, is a national security issue. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which sponsors 'revolutionary, high pay-off research' to maintain the U.S. military's technological edge, is one of several federal agencies providing funding to algae/bio-fuel research. So does the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. Airlines struggling to reduce costs also have a stake."

Ed Timms reports for the Dallas Morning News June 7, 2009.
 

Monday, June 8, 2009