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View Full Version : $600 Million Algae to Biofuel Initiative.



Milo Christensen
07-14-2009, 03:44 PM
Bravo to Exxon Mobil (http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/07/14/14greenwire-exxon-sinks-600m-into-algae-based-biofuels-in-33562.html). I might add that it's about time they got involved.

Keith Wilson
07-14-2009, 03:46 PM
Very cool! That would be great if they can get it to work. About time, says I.

Milo Christensen
07-14-2009, 04:06 PM
In the late 70's I tried to write a science fiction story about turning Lake Erie into North America's "grind up all the garbage and dump into the lake" resource for algae to oil. Something about the entire lake catching on fire.

jack grebe
07-14-2009, 04:31 PM
This idea has been kicking around for quite some time
and I would love to see a go at it. HOWEVER, In light
of recent events, I see 600 million being raided from the
coffers of joe taxpayer.

IMHO, Exxon/Mobil does not need money for this venture,
If it was truely viable they would go it alone and reep the rewards
alone.

Nothing but another Spruce Goose.
Is it possible, yes
feasible........ no

Keith Wilson
07-14-2009, 04:39 PM
According to the article it's Exxon-Mobil's money, not tax money.

Pugwash
07-14-2009, 05:34 PM
Don't want to pee on anyones bonfire. But the idea of genetically altered algae leaking into the environment doesn't fill me with glee.

:)

Sorry.

PeterSibley
07-14-2009, 05:37 PM
I've been waiting for this one for a while , the winner gets a lot of gold .

2MeterTroll
07-14-2009, 05:38 PM
ya thats about what was ringing in my ears. yay lets create franken algae and let it loose in the world.

i fear its going to be much like PCB's.

Pugwash
07-14-2009, 05:47 PM
I have no problem turning algae into fuel whatsoever. Beats the hell out of doing it with something stupid, like corn.

But, doing in partnership with a company called "Synthetic Genomics Inc." kind of makes me go "ut oh".

We have enough problems with freakish algae blooms caused by pesticide run-off already, don't we?

Milo Christensen
07-14-2009, 05:48 PM
I remember, all these years later, a lab on the photosynthetic protozoa and one of them carried around this droplet of "vegetable" oil inside it's single cell. So there are natural sources of "pond scum" already producing oil.

Or think of algae simply as a source of long chain carbon compounds suitable as a refinery feedstock.

2MeterTroll
07-14-2009, 05:53 PM
I can agree with that milo I just dont get behind something made by humans and not tested to the nth degree possible. especially when the thing in question is alive and can adapt.

PeterSibley
07-14-2009, 05:53 PM
ya thats about what was ringing in my ears. yay lets create franken algae and let it loose in the world.

i fear its going to be much like PCB's.

Were you going to "design" an algae to be safe you might make sure it could only survive in a very narrow set of circumstances , salinity , ph ,maybe the addition to it's enviorment of something not naturally occurring in the outside world .

2MeterTroll
07-14-2009, 05:56 PM
sorry Peter i should have waited a bit longer.

its the adaptation part that bothers me. life adapts to circumstances. algae is an old form of life and it has adapted well to every condition its run up against.
thats the problem with this sort of thing.

PeterSibley
07-14-2009, 05:59 PM
Well ,if it is an existing species it could adapt anyway ,much like the bilge water thing ,a "modified " algae might be safer .The tradeoff is a zero carbon fuel .

2MeterTroll
07-14-2009, 06:02 PM
I guess i would like to see the stress testing over long term. carbon free fuel would be great; however some things may not be worth it.

PeterSibley
07-14-2009, 06:17 PM
I'd use an analogy like domestic poultry ,enormously productive within very narow parameters,outside of those they die from any number of causes pretty quickly .It may be a suitable analogy ....what do you think ?

Pugwash
07-14-2009, 06:27 PM
The dichotomy of the GM food industry is that it claims to be able to solve the worlds food problems by increasing yields. However, the crops are "manufactured" to be sterile, so that the the modifications don't escape into the natural environment. This of course doesn't solve anyones problems, because you always have to have money to by new seeds (no seed crop). Which the poorest of the global society don't have.

This is not thread drift.

The point being, that if you were producing GM algae for fuel you would want to engineer it to reproduce as fast as possible. Any other conditions that you might wish to impose on it's survivability are as likely to be as effective as the aforementioned crops "sterility".

What's wrong with trying to do it with something unmodified?

2MeterTroll
07-14-2009, 06:31 PM
Peter I am not sure what to think.

I use a yeast every day in my brewing and i have a strain that i have worked up till it can handle a 60 proof environment i have seen strains in great meads that can withstand 80 proof. with a spectrum like that i am not to sure about defining the boundaries on a living cell.

organisms are made to adapt; simple cells adapt faster than multicellular organisms because they have a generation a min. Algae has a generation every 30 min. sus that out and each generation makes an adaptation that builds on the last generations adaptations. in a day you can have an algae that can survive in a salt pan or the bilge or fuel. we might be able to construct a vulnerability but i think it more likely that this outfit will find the same as Monsanto, that no matter how you set it up there will be survivors. the genome is just to complex to predict.

ah well we will see.

PeterSibley
07-14-2009, 06:44 PM
Good point Mr Troll . Pug , IIRC there is a salt water algae under reseach somewhere ...the Gulf of Mexico being the enviorment under consideration .We better hope it works well .

LeeG
07-14-2009, 08:59 PM
Maybe Exxon is looking for a liquid fuel to replace a pending decline in petroleum liquids?
The first part of his statement is reality, the second is hope.

"The world faces a significant challenge to supply the energy required for economic development and improved standards of living while managing greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of climate change," said Emil Jacobs, vice president of research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Co.

Milo Christensen
07-14-2009, 09:08 PM
Maybe releasing a super fast photosynthesizing algae, something that sucks in CO2 like there's too much of it in the atmosphere wouldn't be a bad idea. If I was in charge of a genmod facility that designed a super fast photosynthesizing algae, I'd just turn the little critter loose. But then, noboby would put me in charge of a genmod facility anyway.

George Jung
07-14-2009, 11:15 PM
Hehe... 'sucks in CO2 like there's too much of it'... what could possibly go wrong with that scenario? Frankenalgae, indeed. But.... interesting possibilities.

PeterSibley
07-15-2009, 03:18 AM
Maybe Exxon is looking for a liquid fuel to replace a pending decline in petroleum liquids?
The first part of his statement is reality, the second is hope.

"The world faces a significant challenge to supply the energy required for economic development and improved standards of living while managing greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of climate change," said Emil Jacobs, vice president of research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Co.

But quite a realisable hope IMHO .