Ethanol production is soon going to be cheaper and cleaner than ever before, thanks to some green interests that combines the might of Dow Chemicals with Algenol Biofuels’ expertise. The partners are now looking forward to use CO2 as the raw material. Ethanol, thus produced, can be used as fuel or to make plastic. As NY Times puts it, they are actually building a demonstration plant to carry out joint research.
Actual Production: Why use algae as raw material?
Algae have been eyed as the fuel source of future for decades. Already hailed as the third-generation biofuel, you don’t need farmlands to cultivate it. Alternatively, they are grown in bio-reactors (troughs filled with saltwater). There are already 40 working bio-reactors in Florida while 3,100 units on a 24-acre site at Dow’s Freeport, Tex., site are ready for installation. Saturating algae with CO2 boosts up its growth. Even the end product i.e. oxygen will help in burning coal in power plants in a cleaner way. Production of reusable CO2 makes algae even more employable. If you could get this fuel as cheap as $1 a gallon, why look for other alternatives.
The Georgia Institute of Technology and Membrane Technology and Research are among the other collaborators, working to separate oxygen and water from ethanol. Also, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will also lend a hand in studying CO2 sources.
Funding is not an issue:
Dow Chemicals and Algenol Biofuels are potent enough to carry forward their plans even if there’s no financial aid from the government. It’s a bold move since such a project will go on to create 300 green jobs. Already piling up $50 million for research and development, the amount clears any speculations on delay.
However, they’ve applied to the Energy Department for financing their project under the stimulus bill. It’s hoped that the partners get ample support as Obama administration has always helped such green ventures. Furthermore, the start-up company wins favor from a university and a national laboratory too.