Thursday, January 22, 2009
I’m not sure what to think of this. It seems like another excuse to mine the sea. In the frenzy to develop alternative fuels, a group in Korea have learned how to turn algae and seaweed into bio-ethanol.
The pluses: This innovation shifts the bio-fuel pressure from agricultural land to the sea, leaving food production areas to feed a hungry world. They also say that the sea based bio-fuel plants grow 6 times as fast as land based biomass. As well, algae and seaweed do not contain lignin and require no pre-treatment before they can get processed into fuel. They also say sea plants absorb 7 times as much carbon dioxide as wood. (The logic in this statement is perplexing. They are proposing to mine the plants that help mitigate the effects of increasing carbon emissions.)
Detractions: The group – the Korean Institute of Technology suggests treating all sizes of algae, from the large kelp forests to single celled spirulina, using an enzyme to break them into simple sugars which get fermented into ethanol. In other words, every green thing that lives in the sea and provides habitat for creatures becomes a potential fuel to maintain our addiction to cars.
What do you think?