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First Flight of Jet Powered By Algae-Fuel

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the fish-tanks-for-fuel-tanks dept.

Transportation 255

s31523 writes "Today a US airline carrier conducted a 90 minute test flight with one of its engines powered by a 50/50 blend of biofuel and normal aircraft fuel. This was the first flight by a US carrier after other airlines have reported trying similar flights. In February 2008, a Virgin 747 flew from London to Amsterdam partly using a fuel derived from a blend of Brazilian babassu nuts and coconuts. At the end of December, one engine of an Air New Zealand 747 was powered by a 50/50 blend of jatropha plant oil and standard A1 jet fuel."

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255 comments

1st (1)

concoursrider (1405071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388281)

It's like a car... no, wait it's not...

So What!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26388629)

My ass has been biofuel powered for years!!!! Dutch ovens rock!!!

Re:So What!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26388863)

That reminds me. Last night, at the party I met this chick. We were both drunk, so she thought I was funny, I thought she had a vagina. Perfect. We go back to her place. I'm on her bed, she pulls off my pants (I was wearing sweatpants. Easier access for the ladies), pulls off my boxers, spreads my legs, and goes down. But she ignores my cock, ignores my balls, and starts muching on my asshole. Now, sometimes I do soap my sphincter in the shower, but I hadn't in a few weeks. There's probably more than a few dingleberries down there, but she's working her tongue like there's a mink coat in it for her. Then I cut a fart, and she's freaks out about how gross I am. I wiped my sopping wet asshole on her pillow (leaving a nice skid mark) and left.

OMG! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26388289)

fp!

Gross (0)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388311)

Eew. Algae. What's next, a flight powered by athlete's foot? It's great that we're coming up with alternatives and it could be worse, but I'm wondering what this will make the airports and flights smell like.

Re:Gross (2, Funny)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388457)

It can only be an improvement. I'd prefer "malfunctioning waste treatment plant" over "jet exhaust".

I'm hoping it smells like "fish tank".

Re:Gross (3, Funny)

timelorde (7880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389297)

If they were smart, they'd make it smell like coconut suntan lotion.

Mmmmm...

Gross is good (5, Insightful)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388939)

Eew. Algae. What's next, a flight powered by athlete's foot?

You don't EAT the damn stuff dude, you burn it! Who the hell CARES what it's made of? Sure seems like a lot less trouble and easier on the earth than digging deep into the earth and dredging up old dead dinosaurs to burn.

I'm also hoping it shuts up the idiots who jump up and down yelling "but how will we feed the children?!?!" whenever someone advocates biofuels. BIO in biofuels does NOT equal FOOD. If I recall, algal blooms are in OVERabundance due to human activity (our detergents ending up in water and supplying phosphates to grow the stuff in excess--tainting our water and killing fish, etc). Seems like an elegant solution to me.

Athletes foot wouldn't be next, but I can thing of another abundant biofuel source that we have a hard time eliminating and that nobody would eat: fecal waste. Everything from poultry litter and cow manure to even human sewerage. How is THAT for gross?

Also, with biofuels, the PROCESSED end product is chemically similar or even identical to conventional hydrocarbon fuels. If you run straight corn oil in your car of COURSE it'll smell like the fryer at the local burger joint, but you don't run straight algae in a jet engine!

Incidentally, have you ever smelled NORMAL jet fuel, or better yet, the EXHAUST from an engine running on it? Jets typically run on a naptha/kerosene blend, which besides being a carcinogen will give you a real bad headache afer a few minutes (unless you're into doing things like snorting tremclad or shoving jiffy markers up your nose or other "fun with fumes" I guess). The exhaust smells similarly unpleasant--almost, but not quite as nice, as deeply inhaling the cloud of black sooty smoke that comes out of the tailpipe of an old diesel truck with fouled injectors.

SO, I'm guessing that it'll perhaps make the airports smell BETTER if algae-derived biofuels become more commonplace. It's also much better than using exotic and/or edible sources, such as coconuts.

Re:Gross is good (1)

sdpuppy (898535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389047)

another abundant biofuel source that we have a hard time eliminating and that nobody would eat: fecal waste.

That way we can say "that airline sure has its $#!^ together!"

(Although with this bio-fuels stuff, I can't seem to get that coconut song out of my head now...)

digging deep into the earth and dredging up old dead dinosaurs to burn.

Argh. No, oil from the ground is not from dead dinosaurs.

It's from the plants that lived during the time of the dinos.

Re:Gross is good (5, Interesting)

Stachybotris (936861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389511)

You don't EAT the damn stuff dude, you burn it! Who the hell CARES what it's made of? Sure seems like a lot less trouble and easier on the earth than digging deep into the earth and dredging up old dead dinosaurs to burn.

Actually, most oil comes from dead algae [wikipedia.org] , not dead dinosaurs. Check the section entitled 'Formation' in the aforementioned Wiki link. So in this regard, we're just changing the current status of the input material.

Re:Gross is good (1)

lenester (625236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389541)

Wait. +4 Insightful? Where's my -1 Didn't Get It option?

Re:Gross is good (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389679)

I can thin[k] of another abundant biofuel source that we have a hard time eliminating and that nobody would eat: fecal waste. Everything from poultry litter and cow manure to even human sewerage. How is THAT for gross?

I can see the Ryanair implementation now. Laxatives in the FREE WATER!!! and no seats, only 200 toilets with seat-belts. Turbulence is going to be messy.

Re:Gross is good (4, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389821)

Incidentally, have you ever smelled NORMAL jet fuel, or better yet, the EXHAUST from an engine running on it? Jets typically run on a naptha/kerosene blend...

Actually, they tend to avoid blending it with naphtha these days - it's a bit dangerous. The fuel itself doesn't smell particularly bad, although the exhaust usually does. That's primarily because aircraft fuel - contrary to popular belief - is much "dirtier" than the fuel you'd put in your car. Jet-turbine engines can burn just about anything, so they can tolerate a much higher level of impurity than your typical piston engine.

Re:Gross (4, Insightful)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389349)

If you can smell something outside the outside the cabin of a pressurized airplane, you have bigger problems than being offended by the smell.

Re:Gross (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389703)

If you can smell something outside the outside the cabin of a pressurized airplane, you have bigger problems than being offended by the smell.

Super smell?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. (5, Informative)

Jonah Bomber (535788) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388347)

Bio-fuel from algae is going to be an interesting field. It's easy to grow, difficult to harvest, and takes a lot of it to make into fuel. But it doesn't take up valuable cropland like corn does and really can be grown anywhere you're willing to build tanks. Solix (http://www.solixbiofuels.com/) is one such company working on the issue who see the potential of building tanks by power plants and then using the CO2 emissions to feed the algae.

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (4, Interesting)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389121)

It's easy to grow, difficult to harvest, and takes a lot of it to make into fuel.

The kinks in harvesting algae will be worked out with development. Give the industry time.
And of course it will take large quantities to produce large volumes of fuel, the up side is that algae is easy to grow anywhere and grows fast.

Solix (http://www.solixbiofuels.com/):

Since the whole organism converts sunlight into oil, algae can produce more oil in an area the size of a two-car garage than an entire football field of soybeans.

On a side note and off topic, what imbecile modded you down to -1? Your post is informative and includes a great link to the technology and should be modded up. I amazes me just how many morons are out there with mod points. Mr Malda, would you fix this please. Someone needs a time out.

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (2, Offtopic)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389283)

Nobody ever bothers meta-moderating.

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (-1, Troll)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389467)

And then there are people, like me, with "excellent" Karma that hasn't seen mod points in well over 5 years. I can only figure that I said something somewhere that pissed off one of the Slashdot editors enough to be placed on a "Does not get Mod points EVER!!!!" list.

Yes, my views are distinct, and I always thought that is what made Slashdot great. But seriously, I'm not a freaking troll (at least not most of the time).

But you know, whatever. I'm still here, and I don't complain much. I'll just keep adding comments, meta moderating and such. I've given up on ever seeing mod points again.

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389627)

Stop posting for a bit. The more you post, the less likely you are to be given mod points (which makes sense, since people who post in every article they read can't use mod points). I got mod points over Christmas after I spent a few days not checking /., and the last time before then I got them was when I was too busy to post for a while.

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389783)

I've got Excellent karma as well, and haven't posted in at least a year (although I browse Slashdot a lot.) I also haven't been given mod points in almost 3 years.

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389633)

Actually, I'm the one that made sure of it, and it's not because of what you did. Just that you're ultra-ghey.

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (1)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389401)

Damn spell check
Post correction, should have been:
"It amazes me just how many morons are out there with mod points."

Re:It will be interesting to see how this plays ou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389579)

Where will the water for growing algae go? In Arkansas there are many square miles of valuable cropland in the Mississippi and Arkansas River basins covered in fish farms.

Algae For Fuel Is Not Cool. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26388355)

Putting those millions, nay, billions of LIVING organisms in such terrible working conditions is a crime against humanity.

Re:Algae For Fuel Is Not Cool. (5, Funny)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389171)

Putting those millions, nay, billions of LIVING organisms in such terrible working conditions is a crime against algaenity.

Fixed that for you.

This is a better rocket fuel! Will save the world (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26388357)

* 1 Case Regular Pint size Mason Jars ( Used for canning)
* 2 Boxes Contact 12 hour time released tablets.
* 3 Bottles of Heet.
* 4 feet of surgical tubing.
* 1 Bottle of Rubbing Alchohol.
* 1 Gallon Muriatic Acid ( Used for cleaning concrete)
* 1 Gallon of Coleman's Fuel
* 1 Gallon of Aceton
* 1 Pack of Coffee Filters
* 1 Electric Skillet ( If you don't know what iam talking about i will have pics later)
* 4 Bottles Iodine Tincture 2% (don't get the declorized it won't work)
* 2 Bottles of Hydrogen peroxide
* 3 20 0z Coke Bottles (Plastic type)(with Lids/caps)
* 1 Can Red Devils Lye
* 1 Pair of sharp scissors
* 4 Boxes Book Matches (try to get the ones with brown/red striker pads)
* 1 pyrodex baking dish
* 1 Box execto razor blades single sided
* 1 digital scale that reads grams
* 2 gallons distilled water \
* 1 Roll Aluminum foil tape

That's what you would have to go buy if you wanted to make meth.

First things first -- the Iodine Crystals. Take one 20 oz, plastic Coke Bottle and pour 4 Bottles 2% tincture into it.

Add Hydrogen Peroxide to this. Use only 1/2 a bottle of Hydrogen peroxide. After this you know, the gallon jug that the Muriatic acid comes in take the cap off and fill this cap level with the acid. Add the acid to the coke bottle (Place in a freezer for at least 30 mins).

While the Iodine crystals are being made we are going to extract the Phsuedo from the Contacts. You are going to need a towel for this so go get one. Take the pills out of one box, add it to one of the mason jars fill with rubbing alchohol just enough to cover the pills let set for 3 minutes. Remove pills and take the towel and wipe the top coating off the pills this will remove the wax. Do the same with the other box of Contacts as well, after this add those wiped off pills only 10 to a clean mason jar. On top of this add 1 bottle of Heat do the same for the other box of Contact. Let theese two mason jars with pills, heat stand for 30 minutes. Then shake the jars till pills are completly broke down then let the jars sit again for 4 hours or until the Heats is completly clear . Once clear cyphon the heat off (Not the powder stuff at the Bottom you don't want this it will fuck your dope up).

Well anyway syphon the heat off with a piece of the sergical tubing syphon this into a pyrodex baking dish place in microwave on high till the heat is almost evaporated. Take out of microwave. Now plug up your electric plate set the pyrodex dish on this on about 180 deg continue evaporating till you get a white powder on the pyrodex (Carefull not the burn the phsudo if it turns yellow it's burned) after you get it dried take a razor blade and scrape this powder up. (put this asside for later use)

Now we are going to get the red phosphorus from the book matches take a pair of scissors and cut along the edge of the phosphorus do the whole four boxes of match book matches then take 1 small coffee cup will work to this coffee cup add about 1/4 the way with Acetone dip the match book strike pads into the acetone for 10 seconds this will loosen the phosphorus so it will be easier to scrape with the razor blades. ( put the phosphorus in an empty match book box to let dry. Now it's time to get the iodine crystals get a clean mason jar on top of this place 1 coffee filter and pour the contents of the iodine +muriatic+Hydrogen Peroxide into the filter ( do it slowly don't over pour) well once you get though with the filtering on top of the coffee filter will be a black substance ( This is iodine crystals) dry them by wraping in more coffee filters till you get a pretty good thick pile around the original filter place on ground and step on it to get the rest of the liquids off save this for the cook.

next take your digital scales wiegh your pills first say you had 2 grams of pill powder then weigh out an equal amount of iodine crystals then for the phosphorus devide the total weight of pills by 3 3 will go into 2 1 time so if you had 2 grams pill powder you should have 2 grams iodine crystal 1 gram phosphorus Now its time to make the cook jars you will need 2 clean mason jars with lids 1 foot surgical tubing poke a hole in both jar lids place one end of the tubing into each jar lid and seal with foil tape (buy this at walmart for about $ 1.60 well anyway seal off the tubes as well as you can so you should have 2 mason jars with lids that have surgical tubing foiled taped and sealed. ok this is the cook in one mason jar add distilled water in it fill it half way close the lid on it. now get you hotplate hot first at 180 degreese F when the plate get hot then its time to add the Iodine+pill powder to the other mason jar not the one with water in it once you get both Iodine and pill powder to the jar add 6-10 drops of distilled water to this place it on the hotplate now add the phosphorus once you put this in the jar there is going to be a imediatereaction place the other lid with hose onto the jar screw on tightly then turn your hotplate up to 400 degrees f let this cook for 1 hour to an hour and a half the best way to tell when it is done is when the contents of the cook jar doesn't boil anymore once this has happened turn the hotplate off and let the jar cool so you can touch it now its time to see if we have dope once it has cooled open the lid and you should smell rotten egg like smell if it has this smell congrads you have dope now we have to remove the dope from the black goey substance to this jar add about 1/4 cup of distilled water and seal the jar with a lid that has no holes in it and shake the jar till all the substance on the botom of the jar has come off into the water

next take another clean mason jar and place a coffee filter and filter the cook jars contents though the filter now on the filter is your phosphorus save this for another cook later on just putt it in a dry coffee filter and put it somewhere dry and safe now you have a jar filled with a yellow honey looking substance if its this color you have done good at cooking the dope now to this add colemans fuel fill the jar about full just leave anough room for shaking now add 1-2 table spoons red devil lye let the jar sit for about 5 mins then place lid on the jar and shake the hell out of it then sit the jar somewhere to rest for about 30 mins Now we are going to pull the dope out of the coleman fuel and the product is going to be 90% methamphetamine to do this fallow what i say exactly syphon the coleman fuel into an empty 20 oz coke bottle syphon off much as you can trying not to get the substance off the bottom of the jar once you have the coleman fuel in the coke bottle add about 4-6 coke bottle caps of water to this now add one drop of muriatic acid to the coke bottle place lid on bottle and shake the hell out of it place upside down so it want fall and get your hotplate hot 400 degrees f on top of the hotplate place a clean pyrodex bowl on it now take the coke bottle still upside down and loosen up on the cap let the water drain into the pan don't get any coleman fuel into the pyrodex bowl now the water will evaporate while it is doing this take a coffee cup add acetone to it fill it 1/4 the way up now once the water has dried on the plate take plate off with gloves and add a small amount of acetone to the pyrodex bowl it will sizzle swirl it arouund and if all works out good ther will be cirle crystals all over the pyrodex bowl scrape up with a razor and enjoy Methamphetamine :-) This with 2 boxes of Contacts will make anywhere from 2-3 grams meth....

Great, but ... (2, Insightful)

KindMind (897865) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388389)

I think it's great that they're testing, but that isn't the issue, is it? Isn't the real problem in getting the production up to a practical level?

Re:Great, but ... (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388519)

Still good to know that this is renewable and useable though. Cars can go electric just fine. Airplanes capable of carrying any useful load (ie, people) have a much harder time. Weight is at a premium in an airplane and batteries are quite heavy compared to the energy they have stored.

If/when we run out of oil I have confidence that electric cars will be pretty well developed and ready. For flight though, I think some form of combustion will still be needed.

So production up to a practical level might not be as much of a problem if it means only supplying aviation fuel while everything else runs on electric. At would at a minimum keep small airplanes available for hobby use (where fuel burn is not really that bad - 4 to 10 gallons per hour is pretty common in smaller planes).

Re:Great, but ... (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388799)

I, for one, am dismayed that they were so quick to shoot down my idea of commercial aircraft being launched to their destinations with enormous slingshots. It requires no fuel, and would look wicked cool. Where's my grant, huh? Why do these jokers who want to fly planes using used grease from a McDonald's fryer get all the money, and I don't get squat?

All I need is a big tree and a really big elastic band at every airport, and I could solve this problem tomorrow!

Re:Great, but ... (2, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389331)

Agreed that your idea would look "wicked cool", however I see a couple of problems. In order to keep the acceleration low enough to avoid destroying the plane and killing the passengers during take-off, the band will have to be fairly soft and very long. Although if we can stretch it constantly over the entire length of a sharply inclined runway, that may be enough.

The second problem, however, is that the major technical hurdle will not be the launch. In order to stop the aircraft, you'll need a very large and very soft catcher's mitt at each airport to accommodate landings. I wish you the best of luck securing funding to pursue your new eco-friendly launch procedure, but I fear that you'll find an insurmountable hurdle at the other end.

Re:Great, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389367)

someone has stolen your idea [wikipedia.org] . you should sue!

Re:Great, but ... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389381)

Hell why bother with the aircraft at that point? I'm envisioning 'individual' transport. We could ship things that are light enough as well like crystal ware and ship in bottles. It could also win us the space race (assuming the two trees are on opposite ends of a gorge). And it could also be easily retrofitted for wartime. It is one simple thing that solves a variety of todays difficulties!

Re:Great, but ... (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389411)

Which is why we need to start building light and fast rail NOW. Link all the cities above X million people, a hub in cities with more than X0 million people. Rail doesn't need to carry ANY energy. (Overhead power lines), rail can do regenerative braking and dump all that power back into the grid, power generation can be centralized and cleaned (rather than a million little diesel engines running around).

Re:Great, but ... (2, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389419)

Weight is at a premium in an airplane and batteries are quite heavy compared to the energy they have stored.

It's even worse than that. Even if a battery had the same energy density (by weight) as fuel, it would still be worse because the batteries do not get lighter over the course of the flight, so the aircraft must constantly expend energy to carry that mass. By burning fuel you lighten your load over the course of the flight which makes flying progressively cheaper.

Also, many aircraft can't (safely) land with a full tank of fuel. They are designed such that the landing weight will be lower (due to burning fuel) than the takeoff weight. This is why planes making emergency landings sometimes need to dump fuel [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Great, but ... (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388801)

I don't know how they are creating this algae, but I think we'd run into a similar problem as ethanol, where you'd need to devote so much land to growing that actually using the algae as a replacement for petroleum isn't feasible, plus the question- are you actually getting more energy out than you are putting in?

And you'd still have lots of greenhouse gases, too.

Re:Great, but ... (5, Informative)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388931)

They grow it in huge tanks that take up very little space compared to the mass they produce. It's actually one of the most viable sources of biomass that they have come up with yet, and the waste after extracting the oils can be used as fertilizer. So Algae is a win win bio fuel.

Re:Great, but ... (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389129)

And today I learned something!

Re:Great, but ... (2, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389597)

I don't know how they are creating this algae, but I think we'd run into a similar problem as ethanol, where you'd need to devote so much land to growing that actually using the algae as a replacement for petroleum isn't feasible

Not sure about your other questions but it doesn't take up much space
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel [wikipedia.org]
Algae fuel, also called algal fuel, oilgae, algaeoleum or third-generation biofuel, is a biofuel from algae.

The record oil price increases since 2003, competing demands between foods and other biofuel sources and the world food crisis have ignited interest in algaculture (farming algae) for making vegetable oil, biodiesel, bioethanol, biogasoline, biomethanol, biobutanol and other biofuels. Among algal fuels' attractive characteristics: they do not affect fresh water resources, can be produced using ocean and wastewater, and are biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment if spilled. Algae cost more per pound yet yield 30 times more energy per acre than other, second-generation biofuel crops. One biofuels company has claimed that algae can produce more oil in an area the size of a two-car garage than an football field of soybeans, because almost the entire algal organism can use sunlight to produce lipids, or oil. The United States Department of Energy estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, it would require 15,000 square miles (40,000 square kilometers), which is a few thousand square miles larger than Maryland, or 1.3 Belgiums. This is less than 1/7th the area of corn harvested in the United States in 2000.

As of 2008, such fuels remain too expensive to replace other commercially available fuels, with the cost of various algae species typically between US$5â"10 per kg dry weight.[citation needed] But several companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce capital and operating costs and make algae oil production commercially viable.[8][11]

I can actually see it replacing oil if the production can be value engineered. Someone worked out you could build the Algae tanks in the Sonoran desert.

http://www.oakhavenpc.org/cultivating_algae.htm [oakhavenpc.org]

Large-Scale Algae Production

Michael Briggs, a physicist in the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Biodiesel group, calculated the annual equivalent amount of biodiesel needed to meet all US ground transportation needs. (6) He assumes that all gasoline-powered vehicles could be replaced over timeâ"the average life of a car in the US is 20 yearsâ"by biodiesel vehicles. He assumes no change in the current average fleet mileage, but does factor in that diesel engines are more efficient. With these assumptionsâ"and a correction for the 2% lower mileage for biodieselâ"he arrives at 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel a year to meet US ground transportation needs. He does note that if people began to buy diesel hybrids (Mercedes showed its diesel hybrid concept car in June and it gets 70 mpg), the total fuel required might be reduced by a factor of three or more. (7)

Briggs used the numbers from NREL's Aquatic Species Programâ"that one quad (7.5 billion gallons) of biodiesel could be produced on 200,000 ha (roughly 500,000 acres) or about 780 square milesâ"to compute that 140.8 billion gallons of biodiesel would requre 19 quads (140.8 / 7.5).This would require about 15,000 square miles (19 x 780), or about 9.5 million acresâ"which he notes is only about 12.5% of the area of the Sonoran desert of the Southwest. So using algae as a source of oil for biodiesel with the NREL productivity assumption, the acreage required is less than 3% of the 450 million acres now used to grow crops.

Based on a UNH research project, (8) Briggs then estimates the total cost of producing 140.8 billion gallons of oil (unrefined) for biodiesel at $46.2 billionâ"substantially less than the $100-150 billion that the US currently spends to purchase foreign crude oil. Thus the large-scale algae farms envisioned by NREL would generate many jobs and substantially reduce the US trade deficit.

Other researchers have proposed a mammoth-scale algae production scheme to meet US requirements at fully amortized costs ranging from about $19 to $57 per equivalent barrel of petroleum. (9) This project assumes that an aqueduct could be built from the Pacific ocean to the Salton Sea and another from there to Death Valley and more aqueducts to other desert locations in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Such a scheme might have been possible in another era, but it hardly seems likely today.

If I was Obama I'd seriously look into doing this. Stimulus packages will run to way more than $46 billion. And the government wouldn't need to fund the whole thing anyway. I wonder if you could catalyze the work by building the aqueducts and offering a guarantee that biofuel would be taxed at a lower rate to offset the risk that oild prices would drop and make it too expensive.

It creates jobs, cuts greenhouse gas emissions, improves the deficit and takes money out of the pockets of the Saudis. If it works everyone else would start doing it too. If it doesn't work, $46 billion is not a lot of money to the US in the era of vast stimulus packages and bailouts.

Re:Great, but ... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389745)

I wonder what the temperature requirements are? We have tons of basically useless land out in really inclimate places, like deserts in the Southwest and practically glacial areas in the Northern U.S. Crops can't grow there and algae tanks wouldn't need to be "rotated" like crops, so we could make use of this space. It would probably equal cheap land for the companies as well.

Re:Great, but ... (2)

nfc_Death (915751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389207)

How can this be a standard response to alternative fuel talk, of course the real problem is getting it up to production level! We have over 150 years of oil based infrastructure that we rely on, I understand the desire not to change our existing structure, but we absolutely have to! Burning dead plants and dinosaurs is a losing battle, it always will be. Having a negative arguement of "Geez looks expensive to get in motion." is not an acceptable stance. Everything is expensive to get started and build up. At some point however we will have to bite the bullet and start.

I wonder if... (5, Funny)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388415)

the plane could fly solely using two African swallows with a string around the plane, such as they would if they were carrying coconuts.

Re:I wonder if... (2, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388603)

Yes, if they were siberian swallows (much more durable and powerfull than european or african swallows) eating algae.

We've been over this before (3, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388425)

And I posted to it then. It must have been a few years back. I did a calculation on how much energy one gets out of algae per acre, and to JUST FEED the traffic from EWR/JFK you would need to convert most of northern NJ into one giant goo pile. Not that Northern NJ isn't already one giant goo pile, but right now it's a giant goo pile full of houses and people and malls and highways and Dunkin Donut shops, all of it located on some of the nations most expensive real estate.

Due to the low Energy Return on Energy Invested inherent to biofuels, you can't really make the stuff too far from its point of use, as the transport of the material would exceed its energy value. Jet aircraft are insanely inefficient and guzzle fuel at prodigious rates, and require fuel that has a high energy density. As a consequence I do not see biofuel for jets as anything but a stop gap measure.

I suggest you move to where you like to live, so you can plan out your future, because in a few short decades, you're not going anywhere cheaply or quickly.

RS

Re:We've been over this before (4, Insightful)

lee1026 (876806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388645)

If I recall correctly, moving liquids in a pipe does not cost much energy. In theory, there should be no reason why you can't produce somewhere dirt cheap, and then transport it over with pipelines. Alternatively, we can use electric trains to transport the stuff, and then generate the electricity with nuclear power.

Re:We've been over this before (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389313)

Indeed, I hear that the south west has LARGE tracts of land (those larger than NJ) that would much more ideal. Warm, Sunny, etc.

Re:We've been over this before (4, Interesting)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388721)

This link [howstuffworks.com] shows a method of growing it vertically so allow optimal light exposure which apparently allows for greater growth (not sure how practical it is but at least it doesn't have to take much surface area)

Re:We've been over this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26388783)

I guess we'll be importing our biofuel from China [discovermagazine.com] now.

Jet aircraft are insanely inefficient and guzzle fuel at prodigious rates

I think you're talking about the engines, and not the aircraft [wikipedia.org] .

I couldn't speak for the airlines, but the jets I've flown are about as efficient as a Hummer or a typical RV. But we can carry a hell of a lot more people.

Re:We've been over this before (5, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388803)

I assume you're basing those calculations on a couple inches of algea covering a huge area. Algea farming for biofuels doesn't work that way. You put the algea in large tubes (10 ft tall, 2 ft around) and continuously churn the water until the density of algea reaches your target harvest point. Then drain the water and process the agea.

As for biofuels for jets being a stop gap measure, how do you expect to power jets 50 years from now if (when?) oil begins to run out. I don't see charging up some Li-Ion batteries to fly several hundred people from New York to London.

Call me a techno-optimist, but I have faith we can solve these kinds of problems with research and engineering. We've done it before and we'll do it again.

Re:We've been over this before (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389069)

As for biofuels for jets being a stop gap measure, how do you expect to power jets 50 years from now if (when?) oil begins to run out. I don't see charging up some Li-Ion batteries to fly several hundred people from New York to London.

We replace the turbine section with a big spiral spring, and put a sticker on the instrument panel that says, "Rewind Engines Every Three Miles."

Re:We've been over this before (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389193)

There where some experiments with nuclear powered aircraft. The biggest problem was some shielding, and they never really flown on reactors. But if we don't have oil any more, who knows?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_aircraft [wikipedia.org]

Re:We've been over this before (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389521)

Oh don't remind me of project pluto. Most terrifying but most badass weapon ever devised. Cruise missile/bomber that operates for months at a time. It kills anything it approaches by giving them radiation sickness or killing them with shockwave alone. And carried multiple nukes. The idea was to send it off to bomb a bunch of russian cities with nukes. Then fly back and forth in russia killing anything that was left alive.

Re:We've been over this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389203)

You are making some valid points, but in a thread discussing algae you should really figure out how to spell algae.

Re:We've been over this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389393)

These people are misanthropic environmentalists. They are just looking for excuses to move everyone back into the stone age, the next best thing to getting rid of the human race entirely.

Of course we'll find technical solutions. We always do. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Re:We've been over this before (2, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389567)

"I don't see charging up some Li-Ion batteries to fly several hundred people from New York to London."

You're close ... we need .... Dilithium Crystals!

Re:We've been over this before (1)

e-scetic (1003976) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388885)

Why does it have to be New Jersey? Can the algae be harvested from or grown on the vast ocean or something?

Oblig Homer Simpson quote (0, Offtopic)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388917)

blah blah blah Dunkin Donut shops, blah blah blah

Mmmmm... Donuts.

Re:We've been over this before (5, Informative)

colin_young (902826) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389181)

To quote from Ask The Pilot [salon.com] :

"As for fuel consumption, let's look first at a short trip, from New York to Boston and back again. This flight is slightly under an hour in each direction. A typical aircraft on such a route, an Airbus A320, will consume somewhere around 10,000 pounds or 1,500 gallons of jet fuel over the course of the round trip. Assuming 140 passengers, that's 71 pounds of fuel, or just over 10 gallons per person. A lone occupant making the same trip by car would consume twice those amounts."

I'm assuming that Mr. Smith as a professional airline pilot has got his numbers right. So where's your backup for your "insanely inefficient" claim?

Re:We've been over this before (3, Insightful)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389183)

JUST FEED the traffic from EWR/JFK you would need to convert most of northern NJ into one giant goo pile

So...no changes would be necessary, then?

Re:We've been over this before (3, Informative)

init100 (915886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389273)

Jet aircraft are insanely inefficient and guzzle fuel at prodigious rates

Actually not. If we e.g. take a common Boeing 737-400, with a fuel capacity of 23170 liters, a maximum range (fully loaded) of 4005 km and a seating capacity of 159 seats, it yields a fuel consumption of 0.036 liters of fuel per km per passenger, which translates to 65 passenger-miles per gallon of fuel.

That's not so bad, is it? Sure, it assumes that the aircraft uses its maximum range (take-off comprises a significant share of the total fuel consumption, so a short flight is much more wasteful than a long flight) and contain a full load of passengers, but still, it's a pretty good number.

Re:We've been over this before (4, Informative)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389305)

and to JUST FEED the traffic from EWR/JFK you would need to convert most of northern NJ into one giant goo pile.

Not really a PILE--probably a nice thick coat of algae, but not a PILE. Besides, why would you bother covering New Jersey in it when you could grow it in the ocean or in lakes? Comparatively speaking the area of NJ is microscopic when you consider how much surface of the earth is covered in water. Not only that, you can grow it in "3D", so you can grow thousands of percent more Algae per acre of SURFACE than you could, say, CORN--that "darling" of the biofuel industry.

Due to the low Energy Return on Energy Invested inherent to biofuels, you can't really make the stuff too far from its point of use, as the transport of the material would exceed its energy value.

I've heard, in fact, that Algae biofuel is MORE THAN 3000 PERCENT MORE ENERGY DENSE THAN CORN ETHANOL. Even myths about corn ethanol taking more energy to produce than it provides has been dispelled (though corn ethanol IS only a fraction as efficient as petroleum fuel and thus not a good alternative). As a matter of fact, if you set aside an area of ocean near the shore about the size of NJ, not only would it produce enough jet fuel to feed EWR/JFK traffic--it would be enough to fuel ALL FLIGHTS AND AUTOMOTIVE TRAFFIC IN THE UNITED STATES.

The problem with algae fuel isn't growing the stuff (supply far exceed demand--it is often the byproduct of water pollution), or how much energy it provides (quite a lot in fact). The problem is that until now almost nothing has been invested in refining the stuff--virtually all the fuel refineries in the world are designed to refine "dead dinosaur residue". he refining infrastructure investment requirement to process that much algae is MASSIVE, which is the single biggest reason we don't all run our cars on algae today.

I suggest you move to where you like to live, so you can plan out your future, because in a few short decades, you're not going anywhere cheaply or quickly.

Thanks for the advice, Chicken Little, I'll take it under advisement.

Of course, our society is extremely wasteful and energy inefficient right now when compared to potential, so ignoring efforts in reducing energy use overall perhaps the sky will indeed fall. However, nothing of the sort will happen as we learn to do everything more efficiently.

Re:We've been over this before (2, Insightful)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389317)

According to the washington post [washingtonpost.com] it would take only 15,000 square miles to replace all the oil used in the United States which includes the oil costs to move oil around.
Which sound huge right? Luckly this country is pretty damn big, with lots of pretty useless areas....
The Mojave Desert for instance is over 22,000 square miles.
While you obvious can't covert the whole thing and dump it all in one place you can probably still find lots of place to stick huge tanks of this stuff, and the tech is only going to get better.
But you are correct in that this wont solve the problem it's still very promising.

Re:We've been over this before (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389325)

you would need to convert most of northern NJ into one giant goo pile

Your point being? (i.e., and the downside would be?)

Not that exciting? (4, Informative)

henrygb (668225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388433)

It is well known that biofuels can (at a cost) be refined to meet most specifications. Providing there is some mineral fuel in the blend to prevent microbial contamination and growth, using this should cause no problems apart from cost. But since jet kerosene is generally untaxed, it is harder to subsidise biofuel replacements than it is for road fuels.

Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (2, Interesting)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388445)

Is this really an Environmentally-friendly change, or just ensuring that it's a fuel that can be supplied long-term (not limited like fossil fuels)?

Consider these points before agreeing that it truly benefits the environment:

    - what energy and chemicals goes into the growing, harvesting, and processing of the plants to make it into fuel? What CO2/pollution does that create?

    - the land used to grow the crops... are we displacing food crops? Would that land otherwise have sequestered CO2 long term (benefitting us), whereas now we're taking that carbon and putting it back into the atmosphere?

It's all about "additionality"... comparing the results of using the new fuel type to the alternatives as a whole. It's hard to come up with solutions that truly make an impact today - until technology makes producing these things in the lab easy (algae seems the most promising).

MadCow.

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388595)

Considering the insane amount of fuel that goes into a single flight (i think a single transcontinental flight takes more fuel than a car during the lifetime of its owner), this can't be good. As you said, we are displacing food crops, which is part of the reason behind raising food costs. Making humans starve can't be a very good change. Thats how wars start.

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389485)

i think a single transcontinental flight takes more fuel than a car during the lifetime of its owner

That may be true, but using cars to transport the same amount of people the same distance would use more fuel at least if you count on only the driver (and no passengers) in each car. And with US-style cars, you could probably add two passengers in each car, and still have the 747 come out as the more efficient alternative.

A typical Boeing 747-400ER configuration has a maximum fuel capacity of 241140 liters of fuel, a maximum range (fully loaded) of 14205 km and a seating capacity of 416 passengers. This amounts to a fuel consumption of 0.04 liters of fuel per km per passenger, which translates to 59 passenger-miles per gallon of fuel.

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389691)

Aircraft are still more efficient per passenger-mile than other popular means of transportation. A loaded 747 gets roughly 100 passenger-miles per gallon. Most American cars, even when loaded with passengers and luggage, can't manage that. Ships are even worse; cruise ships are lucky to get 10 passenger-miles per gallon.

So until electric cars or high-speed rail services take off, don't complain about aircraft.

Also, biofuel sources like jatropha and algae don't displace food crops, unless you define anything that occupies space on the planet's surface as "displacing food crops". They grow in deserts, swamps, shorelines, and lots of other places that are unsuited for food cultivation.

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (1, Informative)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388793)

This would not be pursued to the extent that it has been if those questions have been laid to rest already. Most chemists and chemical engineers out there are familiar with ecology nowadays and performing such Life Cycle Analysis is routine.

For an actual example, see for instance "Environmental, economic and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels", Hill et al, PNAS, vol 103, no 30, 11206-11210.

The net energy gain (over the energy costs of production) is about 25% for corn ethanol, almost 100% for soybean biodiesel (probably higher for algae) and promises to be upwards of 300% for cellulosic ethanol.

Algae and cellulosic ethanol do not displace food crops. Land (and forest) do not sequester carbon to any significant extent - the decomposition process of dead plant matter releases the carbon back into the atmosphere.

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (2, Informative)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388979)

>> Land (and forest) do not sequester carbon to any significant extent - the decomposition process of dead plant matter releases the carbon back into the atmosphere.

Actually, they do - however to a finite capacity. It's true that as plants die, the carbon goes back into the environment, but new plants grow to replace them. Once you deforest an area, or cut it down to grow crops, you've permanently released that carbon to the atmosphere - You're taking an existing carbon sink and destroying it.

If you compare that to farmland, it's not the same effect. You start with bare land, grow crops, then burn the results - net neutral except for the energy put into growing the crops (unless you chopped down a forest to create the farm land in the first place).

I agree that more advanced crops that are easier to convert to fuel are the answer, especially if we're not displacing existing carbon sinks to grow these. The fact that most ethanol comes from low-yield sources like corn today, competing with food crops, is worrying.

MC

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388989)

As long as the CO2 is coming from a truly "renewable" source (meaning that CO2 went into it during it's production) and it's production doesn't involve improperly disposing of some toxic chemical (the EPA does a relatively fair job of this,) how much more environmentally friendly can you ever expect capitalists to get?

We could argue all day about how a car trip through the countryside hurt the feelings of a pair of owls and now they aren't talking to each other and their population is in decline and all of a sudden we realize that NOTHING we do is truly sustainable because we are going to have an impact wherever we go no matter what... and then you just have to ask yourself "is the cost of what I'm doing worth it" and that's a question only YOU can answer. If you don't think so, then there are remote islands where you can farm beets and live in a mud hut for the rest of your life, and I won't think any worse of you for it.

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389285)

Energy? The sun can provide everything you need whether it's a couple solar panels to power the air pump or simply the sunlight for the algae.

Pollution? Yeah, well the algae converts CO2 to algae/oil AND once you process the oil out of the algae, the algae still has a large portion of the CO2 sequestered.

In the cases of some algae, that can then be eaten as a food, used for fertilizer or many other things.

Land? I grow it in test tubes in my window and in "bioreactors" in my back yard. So far it seems that I can produce more fuel than my car uses.

You're thinking the wrong way when it comes to algae. It's not your typical plant.

Re:Additionality... or just a renewable resource? (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389545)

- what energy and chemicals goes into the growing, harvesting, and processing of the plants to make it into fuel? What CO2/pollution does that create?

That's why biofuel is good. It's basically co2 neutral since any co2 release when burning it the same amount you removed from the atmosphere when you were growing it. Once up and running the factory would have 0 impact on the environment other than simply the land it takes up.

the land used to grow the crops... are we displacing food crops? Would that land otherwise have sequestered CO2 long term (benefitting us), whereas now we're taking that carbon and putting it back into the atmosphere

That's a big selling points of algae. You can build the factory anywhere there is sun light, deserts for example. And if you want to sequester the co2 just run your bio fuel factory and just pump the oil it makes back underground.

Hi, I'm Spongebob! (1)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388471)

Fly me to Bikini Bottom! I'm ready, I'm ready!!!

Flight Tests (0)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388473)

Why are these tests being performed with live aircraft rather than with a jet engine in a lab somewhere? Perhaps they want to see how these fuels perform in real-world, high altitude situations. Or more cynically, perhaps the airlines just want to make headlines and appear to care about the environment.

Re:Flight Tests (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388597)

You can bet that the tests were performed for hundreds of hours in controlled environements, you don't just put a couple hundred million dollar airplane into the air and hope that everything works out ok. Of course, there are a ton of variables still to be tested with real world flights: lower air pressure, oxygen density, and temerature for a start.

The thing people don't realize is that modern jet engines can burn practically anything, gas turbines are remarkably flexible. The real questions are how the new fuel affects range and maintanence issues, if the algea fuel gums up the fuel pumps after a half dozen flights, it's not going to see a whole lot of use until all the issues are resolved.

Re:Flight Tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389615)

Why are you such a dullard to think they haven't already done this other testing? Why is it that so many slashdotters think that engineers and scientists who are working with this kind of thing in the field are lunkheads? Man, this is getting really stale about here.

And yes, i'm posting as an AC because I know that it's a troll but sometimes people need to be trolled.

Now we know where all the packages of peanuts went (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26388539)

Into the crapper.

Sounds like a PR-coup, really. (2, Interesting)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388565)

I'm all for biofuels and algae is certainly promising, but AFAIK, it's nowhere near industrial production yet. (cellulosic ethanol is getting there though)

Note that it says:

The biofuel used in the demonstration flight was a blend of two different types of alternative oils - algae and jatropha.

They don't say how much algae-derived biofuel was in that mix. I'm guessing this is rather a way for the company involved to get attention and hence, more funding. I suppose the ends justify the means, though. It takes a lot of funding to start test plants for industrial production.

Re:Sounds like a PR-coup, really. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389033)

It is a sad thing that nobody tells you anything and that you do not know how to use Google.
Algae is COMING on line NOW. Cellulosic ethanol will most likely fail before Algae owns the AE market. The reason is that Algae can be grown 3d, whereas Cellulose comes from a 2D. How different is it? Solix has already achieved production of 1,500 gallons an acre per year at a test plot in Fort Collins, and the company is expecting yields of 2,500 to 3,000 gallons an acre per year, said Mr. Henston. [nytimes.com]
In contrast, soybeans, the main source of biodiesel used in this country, yields 50 to 70 gallons per acre. BTW, this is just ONE of more than 5 companies gearing up for this. Take a look at green Gunk.

The tough part about this is that while the oil price remains low, it will hurt these efforts. EVERYBODY, but Saudi Arabia wants oil prices up around 70-90/bl. Saudi realizes that America is gearing up to dump oil and wants price at around 60 for awhile (which is their minimum needed). Of course that is hurting not just our AE efforts, but also Iran and Venezuela. I am not sure that the Saud's care one way or another about these 2 countries.

Re:Sounds like a PR-coup, really. (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389355)

Of course that is hurting not just our AE efforts, but also Iran and Venezuela. I am not sure that the Saud's care one way or another about these 2 countries.

I don't know about Venezuela, but I'm pretty sure the Saud's would be quite happy to see the Iranian government (which as you say, really needs oil prices > $80/barrel) weakened or worse...

Burning food is really stupid (-1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388631)

If we are going to burn food we might as well pack it in right now.

Re:Burning food is really stupid (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388927)

Obviously you have a problem reading, we are talking about algae and jatropha(toxic) oil here neither of which you really want to eat.

Re:Burning food is really stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389101)

My god does anybody ever read anything before they comment... I know, I know, I must be new here. I'm seeing so much ignorance here that it amazes me that these people can use technology let alone post on /.

Algae uses that same type of mechanism to capture C02 as the food plants but takes up so much less space and resources to produce that it's very very practical. Turning waste water and other waste biomass into usable fuel is a good thing and a net gain. It does not displace food crops it displaces some waste management processes that are right now wasting tons and tons of biomass that could be turned into fuels.

For god's sakes please do research before you spew crap.

Re:Burning food is really stupid (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389683)

Burning food is not stupid. The great thing about food is, unlike fossil fuels, if demand goes up and prices go up, then the supply can rise as well bringing the price back down. Unless we are going to find a long-term energy solution that does NOT use arable land, it's better that we start using it now, instead of using fossil fuels down to the last drop as the population expands until it demands every arable acre just to feed itself - and then running out of fossil fuels, at which point running a tractor or transporting food becomes impractically expensive. Now that is a nightmare scenario.

Which airline? (4, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388637)

The description

A US airline carrier

Is rather vague. Would it kill the editors to read the first line of the article itself to see

The 90-minute flight by a Continental Boeing 737-800 went better than expected, a spokesperson said.

Considering how poorly many of the carriers are doing in terms of finances and customer satisfaction (not to mention customer service) it could be useful to know which one is trying the biofuel, even if it was a short test.

Economics Beats Technology (0)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388707)

It looks like the world's elite have mostly given up on technology as a solution to increasing scarcity/cost of (jet) fuel and decided to solve the problem instead by reducing the availability of air travel. The price of ever more scarce kerosene doesn't increase when it is no longer economical for most people to fly and a great many carriers have gone bust due to the drop in custom.

I think in the near future air travel will once again cease to be a mode of mass transit and return to the exclusive realm of the super-rich. In this case it won't matter what fuels the jets as there will be more than enough of it at an acceptable (economic/environmental) cost to go round.

Closer to Gilligans Island! (1)

BigAssRat (724675) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388831)

The more science progresses, the close we move to Gilligan's Island. Who knew The Professor was so ahead of our time?

Re:Closer to Gilligans Island! (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388871)

I dunno... you gotta wonder about a guy who can make a short wave radio out of coconut shells but can't fix a hole in a boat.

Re:Closer to Gilligans Island! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389593)

I dunno... you gotta wonder about a guy who can make a short wave radio out of coconut shells but can't fix a hole in a boat.

[Sigh]... He and the Skipper DID fix the hole in the boat, and sealed it with tree sap. Gilligan then decided to coat the entire Minnow with the same tree sap. Unfortunately, after a period of time, the sap gave way, and the entire boat fell to pieces.

biofuel != ecofuel (1)

KimmoS (1448215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388869)

Please keep in mind when reading articles like this that biofuel does not automatically mean that the fuel is any more ecological than regular fossile fuels.

The bio-prefix comes from greek meaning "life", and used with the word "fuel" it can be almost any non-ecologic stuff...

Re:biofuel != ecofuel (1)

bluej100 (1039080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388965)

It does mean that, unless it's significantly subsidized, it takes as much carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as its use puts back in.

Re:biofuel != ecofuel (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389035)

Yes, but the biofuels are carbon-neutral, as producing them removes an equal amount of carbon from the biosphere. It's a closed loop.

Fossil fuels, on the other hand, extract carbon that has been sequestered for many thousands or millions of years and releases it into the biosphere. It's an open loop, at least in human timescales.

Hydrogen (1, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26388913)

In many ways liquid hydrogen would be an ideal aviation fuel. It is clean, has a high energy/weight ratio, it has already been demonstrated ( The Russians developed a Hydrogen passenger Jet during the first Oil crisis ), it scales and because airlines have much more predictable traffic patterns than does your home car, you don't need to store it for days or weeks, meaning the cooling and insulation systems can be much simpler.

The catch is the cost of producing hydrogen in an environmentally friendly manner. Renewable and nuclear energy sources can produce it from electrolysis of water, but even the most advanced and experimental schemes only achieve an efficiency of about 50% using already expensive electricity, and that does not include the energy needed to compress and liquefy it.

Re:Hydrogen (2, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389585)

So how do you store it while in the aircraft? AFAIK, hydrogen needs to be compressed to a very high pressure, which requires heavy steel gas flasks for storage, not fuel tanks made of thin aluminium sheets as those used on aircraft today.

Mis-Read the Article Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389573)

Sounded like they were flying algae somewhere by jet.

All this talk about biofules... (1)

Tator Tot (1324235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389675)

is making me go nuts.

Coconuts? (1)

Stele (9443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26389687)

In February 2008, a Virgin 747 flew from London to Amsterdam partly using a fuel derived from a blend of Brazilian babassu nuts and coconuts.

Yeah but were those African or European coconuts?

I have the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389749)

Place bycycle-type cranks and pedals at every seat in the plane, and power it by the passengers. Ticket prices would plummet, we'd all have much nicer looking legs, promotes teamwork... The flintstones knew it way back then!

Nuts are kinda high in fat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26389839)

So does this mean we will have planes with bigger paunches to carry fat Americans?

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