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I have the book shown on this page “Green Algae Strategy: End Oil Imports And Engineer Sustainable Food And Fuel (Biowar I)” by Mark Edwards. It was published in 2008, so it is a bit behind with its information on technological advances and how close we are to being able to provide algal biofuel on a commercial scale . . . remember I told you how fast technology is moving . . . but it has a lot of valuable information. I highly recommend this book.

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Why Are Researchers All Over the World Working on Algae Biofuel?

Did you know that when Henry Ford invented the “motor car” he designed it to run both on traditional gasoline and biofuel . . . ethanol? Subsequent increases of the price of the crops when used for ethanol, along with the lower cost of traditional gasoline drove his cars to using only gasoline. It would take decades for it to emerge again as an alternative fuel.

EPA Admits E85 Can Harm Engines

Gas tank corrosionMany still think ethanol is an important factor in reducing our use of petroleum, including the United States Department of Energy. But their own words must give us pause. The EPA acknowledges that E85 (the blend of 15% ethanol) can harm engines of vehicles (passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles) built in 2006 and older. It can also harm motorcycles and lawnmowers. As a matter of fact, the danger is so obvious that the EPA approves what they call a Misfueling Mitigation Plan in case someone would inadvertently put E85 in their tank when their vehicle can only tolerate E10 or less. These are only a few of the problems connected to blending ethanol in our gasoline.

Food for Fuel

One of the loudest outcries against the use of ethanol recently has been termed “food for fuel.” About 40% of our corn crop is now used to produce ethanol. Many say that the portion of corn used for food is so relatively small that using all that land to grow corn for ethanol doesn’t affect the price of food. Others, like cattle farmers, say the increase in the price of cattle feed may drive them out of business.

I’m about as far from being a farmer as Anchorage is from Ft. Lauderdale, but I have to wonder: what would the land be used for if not for corn grown for ethanol, or soybeans grown for biodiesel? It’s arable land—that means it is good to grow most kinds of crops. Was it previously used for animal feed? If so, why not go back to that? Why not increase our wheat crops?

With hunger problems facing all parts of the world, perhaps we could grow more food and export it. I’m sure there would be many possibilities for using that good arable land, don’t you agree?

“Energy Independence” Runs Amok

We must become energy independent. Our national security is an excellent reason for finding a suitable alternative to petroleum. Why would that make us more secure? The Department of Defense Operational Energy Report for 2012 stated:

“Although accounting for approximately 1.5 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption, the Defense Department is the single largest energy user in the nation.1 In FY 2012, the Department consumed an estimated $16.4 billion dollars of liquid fuels, with more than 60 percent of that purchased outside of the U.S. (emphasis mine) In FY 2013, the Department anticipates spending almost $17 billion dollars to provide more than 111 million barrels of liquid fuels for military operations, training, and readiness.”

Some believe that unless we continually increase the use of ethanol and biodiesel we won’t be able to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But it is impossible to discontinue our use of OPEC oil simply by blending a percentage of ethanol into our gasoline. I’ll tell you more of the reasons in a separate Ethanol article.

I’m a strong believer in energy independence. I believe we should use our own resources, which are many. And getting all that oil and gas out of the ground includes hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.”

However, our natural supplies of oil and gas will, someday, get so low that we can extract no more. By that time, we had better be ready with a completely proven, affordable, sustainable substitute.

I believe that substitute is algae biofuel.

So What’s So Special About Algae Biofuel?

If you read my article “What Are Algae?” you know that algae can grow almost anywhere. Think about that for a moment. Algae do NOT need arable land to grow. It frees up that 40% of our corn crop land.

Algae do not need fresh water for irrigation as food-based biofuel crops do. They do not require fertilizers that leach into our water streams.

There is a lot more that’s special about algae biofuel. I continue telling you about it in Algae Biofuel – Alternative Energy.