Monday, February 11, 2008

Marine algae get the green light from Shell

Shell is to become the first major oil company to produce diesel fuelfrom marine algae.Algae are a climate-friendly way to make fuel from carbon dioxide. Theyproduce an oil that can readily be converted to diesel, and can be fedCO2 directly from smokestacks. Unlike biofuels such as corn, they don'tuse up soil or water that could otherwise be used to grow food, whichcan pump up food prices.The US government abandoned research on algal biofuel in the 1990sbecause of the low cost of crude oil. But as oil and food prices beganto rise, small algal fuel producers sprang up.Shell plans to begin construction on a pilot plant in Hawaiiimmediately, which it expects will produce 15 times as much oil for agiven area as other biofuel crops, thanks to the efficiency of algalphotosynthesis.

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