Spanish scientists search for fuel of the future

Mar 31, 2011 by Virginie Grognou
A chemist quality controls fuel generated at Bio Fuel Systems in San Vicente del Raspeig in eastern Spain. Scientists in the region hope they have found the fuel of tomorrow: bio-oil produced with algae mixed with carbon dioxide from a factory.

In a forest of tubes eight metres high in eastern Spain scientists hope they have found the fuel of tomorrow: bio-oil produced with algae mixed with carbon dioxide from a factory.

Almost 400 of the green tubes, filled with millions of , cover a plain near the city of Alicante, next to a cement works from which the CO2 is captured and transported via a pipeline to the "blue petroleum" factory.

The project, which is still experimental, has been developed over the past five years by Spanish and French researchers at the small Bio Fuel Systems (BFS) company.

At a time when companies are redoubling their efforts to find alternative energy sources, the idea is to reproduce and speed up a process which has taken millions of years and which has led to the production of .

"We are trying to simulate the conditions which existed millions of years ago, when the was transformed into oil," said engineer Eloy Chapuli. "In this way, we obtain oil that is the same as oil today."

The reproduces at high speed in the tubes by and from the CO2 released from the cement factory.

Every day some of this highly concentrated liquid is extracted and filtered to produce a biomass that is turned into bio-oil.

The other great advantage of the system is that it is a depollutant -- it absorbs the CO2 which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

"It's ecological oil," said the founder and chairman of BFS, French engineer Bernard Stroiazzo-Mougin, who worked in oil fields in the Middle East before coming to Spain.

"We need another five to 10 years before industrial production can start," said Stroiazzo-Mougin, who hopes to be able to develop another such project on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Tubes filled with millions of microscopic algae are seen at the Bio Fuel Systems plant in San Vicente del Raspeig in eastern Spain. US oil giant ExxonMobil plans to invest up to $600 million in research on oil produced from algae.

"In a unit that covers 50 square kilometres, which is not something enormous, in barren regions of southern Spain, we could produce about 1.25 million barrels per day," or almost as much as the daily export of oil from Iraq, he said.

BFS, a private company, hopes to negotiate "with several countries to obtain subsidies for the installation of artificial oil fields," he said.

Other similar projects being studied in other parts of the world.

In Germany, the Swedish energy group Vattenfall last year launched a pilot project in which algae is used to absorb carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant.

US oil giant ExxonMobil plans to invest up to $600 million in research on oil produced from algae.

Companies, in particular those in the aeronautic sector, have shown keen interest in this research, hoping to find a replacement for classic .

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gunslingor1
5 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2011
Well, I guess it is better for the environment than coal. In theory, it is a closed carbon cycle so that all CO2 release from our cars is recaptured by the algae, in theory. The reason this theory may be disproven is because bio fuels generally do not pull there CO2 from the atmospher, rather, they generate it or pull it from a facility that generates it as a byproduct. It is better, but not really good enough unless there are strict regulations to garantee it is a closed system.. most currently are not, and most currently have little effect on the environment... but it still is better than oil.

Anyway, all this being said, it does absolutely nothing for the cancer rate, smog, mercury in our fish and oceans, etc. Algea will not pull carcinogens, arsenic, mercury, SOx, NOx, etc out of the atmospher, only CO2. Not good enough of a solution.
antialias
not rated yet Mar 31, 2011
Anyway, all this being said, it does absolutely nothing for the cancer rate, smog, mercury in our fish and oceans, etc. Algea will not pull carcinogens, arsenic, mercury, SOx, NOx, etc out of the atmospher, only CO2.

That's like saying: "An improved battery does not help us eradicate racism - not good enough."
Is that really a logical argument?

What does this technology have to do with any of the things you cited?
gunslingor1
5 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2011
One definitely does have to do with the other. Fossil fuels have far more problems than CO2 alone. They generate SOx, NOx, COx, volital organic compounds (carcinogens), mercury, etc. All of which leads to massive decreases in health and life expectancy for the entire planet. Some people are completely against fossil fuels, not because of GW, but because of health. Cancer rates are skyrocketing. Burning algea produced fossil fuels will be no different than burning natural oil in this regards. Smog will still persist, as will dirty residues in our cities. Cancer rates may be reduced slightly, which is good, by electric/hydrogen would do more.

An improved battery does not help us eradicate racism - not good enough.

I wouldnt go that far at all. I think a better example would have been:

A better battery does not solve the problem of coal plants producing the power
- and yes, electric vehicals that get there power from coal plants is rediculous and not good enough.
antialias
5 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2011
and yes, electric vehicals that get there power from coal plants is rediculous and not good enough.

Not at all. A coal or oil power plant is a lot more efficient (and produces a lot less pollutants) than a gasoline engine in a car per kWh generated - even if we figure in transmission losses from the power plant to the car. Not optimal (alternative energy sources are, of course, preferrable) but still A LOT better.

Coal power plants can also be fitted (at least over here they are fitted) with exhaust gas treatment technologies which virtually eliminate or bind NOx, SOx and CO (CO2 content is, of course, nearly identical for both types of combustion). Again: not optimal but good enough until further solar/wind/wave plants come online.
apex01
not rated yet Apr 01, 2011
Well, I guess it is better for the environment than coal. In theory, it is a closed carbon cycle so that all CO2 release from our cars is recaptured by the algae, in theory. The reason this theory may be disproven is because bio fuels generally do not pull there CO2 from the atmospher, rather, they generate it or pull it from a facility that generates it as a byproduct. It is better, but not really good enough unless there are strict regulations to garantee it is a closed system.. most currently are not, and most currently have little effect on the environment... but it still is better than oil.

Anyway, all this being said, it does absolutely nothing for the cancer rate, smog, mercury in our fish and oceans, etc. Algea will not pull carcinogens, arsenic, mercury, SOx, NOx, etc out of the atmospher, only CO2. Not good enough of a solution.


So then are you against hybrid vehicles? You must be an environmental purist.
robbor
not rated yet Apr 01, 2011
Still, it's burning a substance to release its energy. How about developing Integral Fast Reactors http://www.skirsc.../ifr.htm just don't let John Kerry get his hands on it http://nuclearstr...214.aspx
gunslingor1
not rated yet Apr 04, 2011
Still, it's burning a substance to release its energy.


Exactly, burning is a obsolete way of producing energy that has far reaching effects on both environment and health, far beyond the 5 out of 10,000 regulated chemicals.

A coal or oil power plant is a lot more efficient..

I think I am willing to concede that they will at least be equal, maybe better. But we are already polluting far beyond what the human body or the planet can handle.

Coal power plants can also be fitted with exhaust gas treatment technologies which virtually eliminate or bind NOx, SOx and CO

Again, 4 out of 10,000 chemicals, what about the rest? There have been no implemented solutions for SIGNIFICANTLY reducing CO2. best anyone has reduced CO2 is by 10%, and the modification costs 2 times the cost of original plant construction (plant Schere, Geogria-PAC injection).
rgwalther
not rated yet Apr 04, 2011
And, of course, we all know that the oil companies will utilize their space based laser weapons to target and destroy these devices.
gunslingor1
not rated yet Apr 04, 2011
And, of course, we all know that the oil companies will utilize their space based laser weapons to target and destroy these devices.

-?? Why would they do that? They tripled their investment with zero return, why would they do that? Anyway, they would and often do tamper with pollution monitoring equipment.
rgwalther
not rated yet Apr 04, 2011
-?? Why would they do that? They tripled their investment with zero return, why would they do that? Anyway, they would and often do tamper with pollution monitoring equipment.


One the strangest responses to humor that I have ever encountered. I assume that you are kidding or do you really think that oil companies have space based laser weapons?

- Human based pollution only has two solutions: Technology or mass extermination. One will happen.
gunslingor1
not rated yet Apr 04, 2011
Oil companies have entire fleets of spaceships brother. You didn't know they are conspiring with aliens to make the planet habbitable for the new species? Just kidding of course, although, I wouldn't be suprised in the least if this turns out to be accurate. I have been racking my brian on it for decades, why would coal power producers be SOOOoo against nuclear, when it is soooo much more profitable and saves lives; why would they conspire and propagandize sooo much. My best guess is that they are in denial of GW and cancer, they're brain is just clouded by immediate profits. The other thing, I suspect they just make more money than they know what to do with already and why risk it; rediculous profits + no change >= even more rediculous profits + change.

Human based pollution only has two solutions: Technology or mass extermination. One will happen.

Agreed.

So then are you against hybrid vehicles?

-As a short term 5 year solution, no, long term, yes.