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Biogas Fuel – A Future Superhero?


“I’m really good at sleeping on planes. I mean, I smell jet fuel and I’m out; I’m asleep for takeoff.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

Good News:

Do you guys get how exciting these implications are? The world may have a new superhero to choose from in the battle of fuel solutions.

Finally, we could have a truly green and eco-friendly superhero fuel that gives those dastardly fossil fuels a run for their money!

Researchers such as Mariluz Bagnoud are fine-tuning a technology that transforms wet algal biomass – into a biogas that is compatible with current natural gas infrastructure.

(And, How?)

It’s called SunCHem, and it is a resource and energy efficient process to cultivate microalgae and convert them into synthetic natural gas.

During the process, water rich in algae is heated to 400 Degrees C – under high pressure to a supercritical liquid state.

In this condition, the water effectively dissolves the organic matter contained in the mixture, while the inorganic salts can be recovered as a nutrient concentrate. It is then split into water, CO2, and the methane rich biogas, by gasifying the remaining solution in the presence of a catalyst. In this case, the catalyst is Aluminum. Leaving only harmless CO2 and water as the bi-product of methane rich biogas.

At the present time, it’s still in the preliminary stages, and might be way too expensive to actually be practical for near-future usage in rotation with other fuel resources. However, knowing that there is a viable alternative for the future, is hope-inspiring! The great thing is, it’s easy to develop –  it can be grown in pretty much any type of water, and the process of transforming it into bio-gas using the SunCHem method takes under an hour.

A miniscule amount of time compared to the typical million years it takes for natural process to break it down. I would say we have a mega winner with SunCHem!

“Feeding them back into the water that we grow the algae in has a spectacular effect on their growth..” ~ Mariluz Bagnoud

So how could this get even better?:

Well, on top of the eco-positive nature, it could also have the potential to shake up the politics of fossil-fuel derived oil.

How so? Well we have seen and heard about the many wars that have been fought over oil and have caused extreme devastation in the lives of those who live in the war-torn areas. The soldiers who fight in the wars come home traumatized by all they have seen, and their families and communities that they return to are also deeply affected.

All of that has occurred simply for the greedy pursuit of obtaining as much oil as possible. If the scientists and engineers who discovered this process can make it cost-effective and get this fuel translated into real-life usage for the majority – this would make the humble algae a super-hero and a peacemaker as well — go algae!

You may well deserve your own cape and summer-blockbuster movie!

Source: phys.org


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