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The Forum > Article Comments > Algal fuels key to nation's energy independence > Comments

Algal fuels key to nation's energy independence : Comments

By Julian Cribb, published 23/4/2013

Almost alone among 25 OECD countries Australia has no national strategic oil reserve.

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It sounds good but I would be surprised if it was possible to get 60 tons of "fresh" oil (do you mean crude or refined ready to use oil?)it might be possible to glean 60 liters from the area you claim but if you can explain in more detail, like trials that have given long term definite proof I would be very interested.
Posted by lockhartlofty, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:02:20 AM
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Julian Cribb,

Yes, disruption of our petroleum supplies is a really major risk to Australia. It is a risk with far greater consequence in the foreseeable future than climate change. Yet for over two decades, climate change is the big risk that governments have focused on.

If our electricity systems were disrupted, most people in cities would be dead within a couple of weeks (no water supply, no food, no banks, no money, no petrol so cant escape to the county).

Disruption to oil supplies would be slightly less impact and slower, but still catastrophic. Millions would die if our oil supplies are disrupted.

Well have no submarines for a decade, so protecting the ships bringing our oil imports will be weak.

Wow! How vulnerable are we?

However, your advocacy for algae does not look like a rational, considered argument from a pragmatist. It seems like just another pie-in the sky idea, like the other renewable energy schemes that come and go. Just like all the other unrealistic, nonviable (without enormous subsidies forever) renewable energy schemes like: wind, solar, wave, tidal, ocean thermal, ocean current, geothermal, biomass, etc.
Posted by Peter Lang, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 11:19:30 AM
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If you drive a petrol or diesel powered vehicle, you are powered by algae. Albeit, laid down millions of years ago in sedimentary deposits.
Some algae are up to 60% oil, absorb 2.5 times their own bodyweight in Co2 emission, and grown under optimised conditions, can quite literally double their bodyweight, oil content and that absorption capacity every 24 hours.
Extracting the ready to use oil is as simple as sun drying the product and then crushing it.
The ex-crush material can be used as fodder, or for ethanol production.
As a waste product, and unlike traditional ethanol production, requires no additional energy input.
Different varieties naturally produce different fuel types. Currently we are growing naturally occurring bio-diesel and jet fuel.
In closed cycle systems, such as might be used to scrub smoke stack emission, (clean coal) algae only use 1-2 the water of traditional irrigation.
Therefore, making it an eminently suitable crop for places like the struggling Murray/Darling Basin.
And the 50,000 jobs this industry could create, would virtually guarantee this and other areas, viable and very prosperous futures, as well as returning most of the water to the environment, in a win/win outcome for the populace and the environment.
We need not stop there, given our currently wasted bio-waste could also be converted into virtually free energy and free hot water, with the resulting liqueur, eminently suitable as algae nutrient.
I mean, the average family produces enough biological waste to power the home 24/7.
Ditto any residential high rise, and even more so, in highly populated office towers, hospitals and military basis etc.
The by products of this energy production, include a sanitary carbon rich organic fertilizer, and reusable, nutrient loaded, sanitised water.
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 11:23:06 AM
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We think virtually nothing of shelling out a billion for a floating oil rig.
Yet baulk at stumping up half that for comparable bio-diesel production.
The difference being, even the moist productive well eventually goes dry, while bio-diesel/jet fuel production just exponentially ramps up.
So where can we get half a billion to kick start bio fuel production?
Well we the people own a huge gas reserve off our west coast. And the lease holder has since advised us, they no longer intend to proceed with production.
We the people should therefore resume this lease and operate it for profit and local supply production.
As domestic gas and piped directly to the home/shop/factory, it could quite dramatically reduce domestic energy prices, and restart our stalled manufacturing base.
The locally invented ceramic cell runs on NG, and produces mostly water vapour and free hot water!
Prices as low as 3 cents a kilowatt hour are not unimaginable.
Our pollies talk about a carbon neutral economy, but after churning money around the economy, that's all they ever do, talk!
Or put in the words of a famous poet, yakity yak blah blah blah, yakity yak blah blah blah, that's all I hear all day, yakity yak blah blah blah!
Moving forward with action?
A euphemism for endlessly rubbishing the other side of the political divide?
Well, that does seem to be where all the action is happening!
I mean, when the current Govt acquired the treasury benches, we were importing somewhere around 30% of our domestic oil needs, now its closer to 85%!
I rest my case.
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 11:51:29 AM
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The reason that most fuel is imported is that the cost of refineries etc are too expensive, and it is cheaper to refine our fuel in Singapore.

Given the vast natural and coal seam gas reserves in this country, there is a potential to run cars on LPG or as in South Africa make petrol from natural gas or coal far cheaper than bio diesel.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:40:14 PM
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A great article and the subject worthy of more than discussion, investment is the answer if the human race wants to go down that road, but for what reason? Just more growth I would suspect.

In the early 1950s the Earth's population stood at about 3 billion humans. In my late thirties I recognised that things were going wrong here on our little blue-green planet despite the ongoing optimism spread by politicians, economists and this belief appeared to be the primary belief set of the general population, in Australia at least.

Fast forward to 2013 and there are more than 7 billion humans on the planet. Today Australia will officially eclipse the 23 million population threshold. All the disturbing trends I have been following get more and more pronounced as time goes by and are unfortunately inevitably unstoppable, there is no end in sight.

Every single one of those humans needs to eke out a living. There's only one Earth on which they can do so. We are all so busy consuming and living our lives that we ignore the ominous signs that ignore the planets inability to support this rapacious growth.

The evidence is there if you want to see it. We are slowly (and sometimes quickly) causing the human destruction of Earth's biosphere, specifically, the destruction of marine ecosystems, killing off of various species, both large and small, both animals and plants and destroying once fertile soils (particularly topsoil) and polluting our air and water.

Biofuels in the form of algae could be an answer for our future transportation and other energy needs, but if one looks a little further one begins to question why, growth for the sake of growth is really the only answer and at what point do we ask whether not this is actually a good reason.

Is there another way or are we just perpetuating progress toward a more disastrous future for our species some time further down the line?
Posted by Geoff of Perth, Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:54:56 PM
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