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Thirty miles south of Melbourne are XL Tech's PetroAlgae labs, where researchers are "farming" algae expected to become a viable and environmentally friendly fuel alternative that could replace petroleum and food oils.
Because algae matures in 24 hours, converting 50 percent of their weight into usable fuel and allowing for daily harvesting it produces up to 200 times more oil per acre per year than traditional biofuel crops.
Another benefit of these algae farms is that 99 percent of water used in cultivation is recycled.
PetroAlgae currently is on schedule to have an operational initial production facility this year. With an appetite for 1.3 million barrels of oil a day, company officials believe think the world is a ready market for this technology.
The New York Times has an in-depth report on the world vegetable oil market. Increased consumption from calorie driven consumers, increased demand from trans-fat banning markets, and increased use of oil feedstock are combining to drive up prices for vegetable oils and leading to ever more drastic consequences.
Despite the increased demand for oil, in the United States soybean acreage has *decreased* by 19 percent due to the demand for corn-based ethanol.
Increasing awareness of these issues have led to broader movements for sustainable biodiesel production methods. Right here in Central Florida, the 5th annual Sustainable Biodiesel Summit arrives on February 2nd and 3rd to "raise awareness of sustainability and to facilitate the adoption of sustainable practices in the biodiesel industry. Industry professionals meet to exchange best practices, brainstorm ideas, and support each other’s efforts to conduct successful businesses in an environmentally sustainable and socially just manner". See you there!
Update - Less in depth CNN story on similar topic
We've updated our biodiesel map to display biodiesel stations from the Florida Department of Agriculture's "Alternative and Renewable Fuel Station Locator". (The map displays over 1250 stations nationwide at this point, so it is starting to get a little slow to display. We'll probably have to address that behind the scenes as even more stations are added.)
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop in the Oaks Plaza, Melbourne FL is hosting a benefit for the Climate Crisis Coalition on Tuesday January 15th from 6pm to 8pm. 20% of all sales will be donated to that organization.
Florida Today reports that Syngas LLC, based out of Grant FL, has signed a contract with Advent Power Systems to produce ten one-megawatt generators. The generators will be powered by "syngas" made from glycerol, a biodiesel production byproduct. We've covered Syngas before and co-founder John Sessa noted then that syngas is "a term loosely applied to any combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide".
The National Biodiesel Board reports that 250 million gallons of biodiesel were sold in the US - production of which led to 25 million gallons of glycerol. Glycerol is left over after the three chain triglycerides in vegetable oil are converted into single chain esters known as biodiesel. Production of 10 gallons of biodiesel results in about 1 gallon of glycerol byproduct. The rapid increase of biodiesel production has resulted in a glut on the glycerol market.
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