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First Algae Car Attempts To Cross the US On 25 Gallons of Fuel

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the your-dirty-pool-is-now-your-greatest-treasure dept.

Transportation 188

Mike writes "San Francisco recently saw the unveiling of the world's first algae fuel-powered vehicle, dubbed the Algaeus. The plug-in hybrid car, which is a Prius tricked out with a nickel metal hydride battery and a plug, runs on green crude from Sapphire Energy — no modifications to the gasoline engine necessary. The set-up is so effective, according to FUEL producer Rebecca Harrell, that the Algaeus can cross the US on approximately 25 gallons of fuel — a figure which is currently being tested on a coast-to-coast road trip."

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Fuel + Electric (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399381)

When they factor in or go without the gallons of oil, pounds of coal, cubic feet of natural gas, amount of uranium or other fissile fuel, wind turbine hours, and other electric generation measures, then I'll get excited. Until then the 25 gallons is a bit misleading, sort of like the volt's 240mpg. Either that or I'll forgo the above if you give me a dollar amount in electricity donated, borrowed, bought, or rented along the way.

Re:Fuel + Electric (4, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399553)

I'd also add what their average speed is as well. You can get much better fuel economy in a prius if you only drive 25 mph than if you drive 65 mph due to the electric motor on board. Although, this is going to be the killer to their statement

And while the Algaeus only runs on a 5% blend of algae fuel

5% is nothing. (3, Interesting)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400267)

I ran a car with about 5% piss in the gas tank. Long story, but yeah 5% is nothing to brag about when it comes to fuel additives. When they can use a 15% blend and beat ethanol in efficiency (meaning MPG/KPH) then we will talk. Until then the algae has a long way to go.

Re:5% is nothing. (3, Interesting)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400643)

I want to hear the story.

Re:5% is nothing. (4, Funny)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401799)

Ok fair, you called me on it. Excuse this being a quick synopsis. Essentially I was in a situation where the car me and my friends were driving was close to reaching the point where the car inevitable "ran out" of gas. Sadly this was thanks to a poor design in the tank of this '76 Chevy beast. Actually there was almost 3/4ths of a gallon left but in the lower corner. We had in the past, as poor rednecks been in the same situation- every time we had turned to beer or liquor. Too bad us 17 year old dumb asses didn't have the assets this day. As such it became a straw pull and I got selected to be the "New Jersey Pumper"(I remind some folks that having someone pump your gas is bizarre to many of us). The car survived to the pump thankfully, though it was certainly one of the killers of that car. However, one good thing is that I have learned a lot about how to treat teens. Man I was a dumb ass back then.

Re:Fuel + Electric (0, Redundant)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400335)

Yes.

Besides starting out with a fully-charged battery every morning (which is like 40 miles of "free" energy when the gas engine will be off), the overall fuel economy is only ~100 miles per gallon. My Honda Insight can do 98-99 MPG if I drive 50 miles and hour, and the Volkswagen Lupo 3L can get over 110 MPG at similar speeds.

Re:Fuel + Electric (2, Interesting)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400709)

Except it's not "free", energy is energy whether you get it from the gas in your tank or off the grid it still costs you. Of course you could put solar panels on your roof to charge your car but those also cost money.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401463)

>>>Except it's not "free"

I meant the electricity is "free" in the sense that it's not included in the "25 gallons of gasoline" bragging point. In theory they could brag they went cross-country with only 1 gallon, if they kept stopping every 40 miles and recharging the Prius' battery with "free" energy. Understood?

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

ImYourVirus (1443523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401957)

Stopping and recharging the battery is cheating in my book, plus whats the cost of that energy

Also how long is going to take them (and at what speed) to make said trip if they are stopping every night to 'fill up' the batteries it could take them several weeks to make that journey.

There comes a point when the savings doesn't justify it taking so long, I'd rather spend a few more bucks and make the trip in like 5 days (give or take) then save a few bucks on gas and have to stop every night and spend more money in hotels than on gas plus it takes like a month to get there.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29402207)

>>>Stopping and recharging the battery is cheating in my book

Precisely.
You understand.
The "only 25 gallons" bragging point means nothing when you can grab "free energy" from an electrical outlet. It skews the results.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401405)

Yes.

Besides starting out with a fully-charged battery every morning (which is like 40 miles of "free" energy when the gas engine will be turned-off), the overall fuel economy is only ~100 miles per gallon. That really isn't impressive.

Re:Fuel + Electric (5, Informative)

ZigiSamblak (745960) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399639)

The thing to get excited about here is not the efficiency of the fuel but that this is supposedly a "cradle to cradle" solution. By producing this fuel you are not taking away farmland to decrease possible food production but you are taking the CO2 out of the air to produce the fuel.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/us/02algae.html?_r=2&oref=slogin [nytimes.com]

An algae farm could be located almost anywhere. It would not require converting cropland from food production to energy production. It could use sea water and could consume pollutants from sewage and power plants.

Re:Fuel + Electric (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399803)

An algae farm could be located almost anywhere. It would not require converting cropland from food production to energy production. It could use sea water and could consume pollutants from sewage and power plants.

Has anybody suggested a nice oceanfront inland area with lots of rail and marine transport? One with storage and refinery capabilities? One that's already below sea level? Because I think there's a likely spot in Louisiana.

Re:Fuel + Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399919)

Has anybody suggested a nice oceanfront inland area with lots of rail and marine transport? One with storage and refinery capabilities? One that's already below sea level? Because I think there's a likely spot in Louisiana.

Camp Pendleton: the largest, most valuable, state-owned, ocean front property in the world.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400363)

Louisiana will be the new Texas. "Louisiana tea - algae oil y'all. Strike it rich."

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400879)

Bet it wouldn't take long for them to change that to Algae Y'oil

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401551)

But how long would it take before they decided to invade R'lyeh for Y'oil ?-)

Re:Fuel + Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29401505)

Um, it appears that the current Louisiana economy is based upon the massive amounts of oil that is underground both offshore and throughout the state. Also, we are pretty water stretched as it is -- crayfish require a lot of fresh water.

What people, and the oil companies, here are looking forward to is the money for carbon sequestration. There are already plans for pumping CO2 into salt domes for long term storage. Currently CO2 is used to increase oil well efficiency.

Re:Fuel + Electric (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399679)

Has yahoo been hacked?
I get http://m.www.yahoo.com/ (notice the m)

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

12345Doug (706366) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399909)

Are you viewing from a phone or similar mobile device. I noticed that when I checked my yahoo mail on my phone it started with a m as well.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29402031)

Has yahoo been hacked? I get http://m.www.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] (notice the m)

m.no, m.I m.don't m.see m.any m.problems m.here. m.Check m.your m.settings?

Re:Fuel + Electric (4, Insightful)

C0deM0nkey (203681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399869)

I think the thing to get excited about here is that this solution...along with any electric car in general...is a step towards reducing and eliminating fossil fuels. Consider it a step towards consolidating our use of fossil fuels into specific distribution points on the electric grid. Say that it encourages the replacement of gasoline fueling stations with electric fueling stations. Say that it inspires advances in quick-charging battery cells for electric cars.

What do we have then? We've still got fossil fuels being burned at key points on the electric grid *and* the emissions from those locations is very significant. But we've also gained better battery technology and fewer gas stations and (here's the big one) we are poised to replace those electrical nodes with cleaner alternatives.

Part of the struggle moving from one technology to the next involves infrastructure replacement and consolidation of old resources. The Algaeus is just a tree in the overall forest. See the forest and then the Algaeus becomes pretty cool -- because it means we are trying *something* to move away from fossil fuels in our primary mode of transportation (at least in the US).

Re:Fuel + Electric (4, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400381)

Then they should focus on the "it's electric!" sales pitch, rather than spread lies about getting 100 MPG and ignoring the costs at the user's electric meter. This is the same crap Chevy does with its Volt, claiming you get 60 MPG and "save money" but they never bother to mention the $50/month increase for charging the Volt's battery. Such false advertising should be illegal.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

phirewind (531662) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401035)

Yes and no. If a Chevy Volt costs 60 mpg + $50/mo to travel 1200 mi/mo, that's $100 at $2.50/gal. If a traditional car got a straight 25 mpg, that's $120. The higher gas prices go, the better cost savings the Volt brings. Add in the recent possibility of actual progress in new nuclear power installations and not only is a well-engineered gas/electric hybrid a cost-saver to the consumer, it could significantly reduce the load on the oil infrastructure in the foreseeable future. I'm not saying the Volt itself is "awesomesauce", as I haven't even seen one in my area, but the idea of an efficient gas/diesel/whatever engine purely as a generator to an entirely electrically driven car is a very solid move forward. Now if they can just produce a good one that fits in the "college kid/honda/pontiac" price range instead of the "business porche/rolls/land rover" tax bracket, at a scale that doesn't result in years-long back orders.

Re:Fuel + Electric (4, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401451)

>>>Yes and no. If a Chevy Volt costs 60 mpg + $50/mo to travel 1200 mi/mo, that's $100 at $2.50/gal....
>>>

Yes and another hybrid like the Prius (approximately same size/shape) will only cost $66 each month. So even though the Prius appears to be a less-efficient 45MPG car versus the Chevy Volt's advertised 60MPG, in reality the Prius will be cheaper to operate for the customer.

Heck even a non-hybrid 38MPG Civic is cheaper to operate ($78). This is why I think this Chevy Volt false-advertising needs to be stopped. It's misleading to the consumer to say "it gets 60MPG" while never mentioning the additional impact on their electricity bills.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401497)

>>>gas/diesel engine to an entirely electrically driven car is a very solid move forward.

P.S.

I agree, but that still doesn't excuse deceptive advertising that deliberately fails to reveal your Electric bill will increase ~$50 each month. Customers need to be told this info, even if it's something like "Gets 60 MPG and uses 300 watthours per mile"

BTW my Honda Insight which has 70hp power comparable to the Volt gets around 80 MPG and would cost just $37/month of gasoline to operate in your scenario.

Re:Fuel + Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29401709)

please provide a reference that this will add $50 to your electric bill

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29402221)

Chevy Volt does 40 miles per charge, so figure 2 charges a day (to work/from work) and 20 working days per month == 1600 miles which is 600 kilowatthours for a typical EV. Multiply by 15 cents per KWh == about $87 per month for electricity.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

C0deM0nkey (203681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401071)

I agree. It would be great if they could focus on the "It's electric" pitch. Unfortunately, the very next complaint would be: "there's no where for me to plug-in" or "it takes too long to charge the battery...what's the point, I can only ever charge it when I'm at home."

Its got to be about building interest in electric/hybrids instead. The way to do that is tell someone you are going to save them money at the pump because you are going to get them 100MPG.

Right now, I spend about $120 a month on gas -- and that's really me just going back and forth to my job. I've got about a 13 gallon tank and I get about 20 mpg. If I was able to get 1300 miles out of 1 tank of gasoline my gasoline fuel bill for one month would be 20% less than what I pay for a single week now.

Even if you add $50.00 to that cost, I would *still* come out ahead every month. My carbon foot-print might remain about the same but I would be consolidating that footprint with others at the electric company (waiting for the day when the tech at the electric company could be swapped out for something cleaner).

Unfortunately, I would not *yet* come out completely ahead financially because the cost of purchasing an electric car is still too high. However, if the cost of the car was reduced because more people were purchasing them *and* battery technology was such that they could be charged within +/- 20% of what it takes a person to fill their car today *and* their was enough infrastructure to support going cross-country, they'd be very viable.

You've got to start somewhere. Increasing awareness and showing people that they can reduce their gasoline fuel bill is one way to heighten interest in the idea of owning an electric car. Interest inspires demand which will hopefully inspire companies to invest in better battery technology, etc. When the technology is there, fueling stations become feasible.

Its a start.

Fuel + Electric+ *CAPITAL* (5, Interesting)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401679)

Everyone with all these wonderful plans to get the "Happy Motoring" era happy again with 100+ MPG vehicles is conveniently forgetting that it will take a HUGE amount of money to convert the VAST fleet of current BFACs (big f'ing American cars) to anything resembling a 100+ MPG fleet of vehicles.

    This is money that we don't have. We have (you may recall) pissed away 3 trillion dollars on the PEW (permanent endles worthless war) so far and it's still at PEW status. We have bankrupted the middle-class on a bogus housing bubble to the point where half the houses built and sold in the past ten years are 'underwater'. We have maxed out our credit cards and destroyed the major banks to the point where they required two seperate 760 billion dollar 'bailouts' in a single year. We have no realistic health care system at a point where a 100 million people born between 1945 and 1970 are nearing retirement. Our totally corporately-owned corrupt government runs up a trillion dollars of deficit every fucking year. And the rest of the world is talking behind our backs about not continuing to buy our Ponzi Federal Reserve bonds.

    Not only are we out of money, we are out of money with 100 million stupid and obese self-entitled citizens. And all this is happening when we face Peak Oil and global warming environmental transformation. And when the number of $1 a day people in the 'never-to-be-developing' world are increasing their population from 4 to 8 billion in 30 years.

    There isn't going to be any great new 'Apollo' or 'Manhattan' project to deal with these problems. No one seems to realize this, ESPECIALLY here at Slashdot, but there is no more fucking money . Over the next ten years, critical systems for economic growth are continute to shut down, one by one. It's not going to be easy, or pretty, or fair. And as a member of the technological elite, it's going to really piss you off because you know that we could be doing so much, if only...

    Start thinking like this and stop thinking about giant government projects and Mars Landing and all that other 20th century fantasy and you will be around to play with your grandchildren. And please don't mod me down to -1 because my rational discussions bum you out. If I bother you, reply here as to exactly why I'm wrong. Believe me, I do want to be wrong about all this. But I have this bad feeling...

Money is cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29402061)

>> it will take a HUGE amount of money
>> there is no more fucking money
>> pissed away 3 trillion dollars
>> This is money that we don't have.

You seem obsessed with money.
If you feel the strain that bad, do what I do... Dye Sublimation printers have only gotten cheaper and cheaper.
http://prizedwriting.ucdavis.edu/past/2004-2005/how-to-counterfeit [ucdavis.edu]

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 4 years ago | (#29402089)

Perhaps you would like to rebuild and exponentially expand the current electric grid while you are at it. If not, kiss your electric car dreams good bye.

Re:Fuel + Electric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400385)

Though I hate class action suit in general the way they market these smacks of one to be had.

A while back we sued the lawn equipment folks for misleading us by saying 'This mower has a whoping 6.734 horse power'. How long till the car folks get it for saying 'go across the states on 25 gallons!!!'

Sorry to break it to you /.'ers but you can't drive a car across the states on 25 gallons of gasoline. Oh wait we already knew this move along.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400463)

My question is, under the accounting they're using, why do they use any fuel at all? Why not go for the gold and say "we crossed the US without using any fuel at all!"?

Re:Fuel + Electric (3, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401003)

My question is, under the accounting they're using, why do they use any fuel at all? Why not go for the gold and say "we crossed the US without using any fuel at all!"?

Because the snake oil they're pitching is algae. They had to add a meaningless amount of algae-based fuel to the gas tank in order to include the proper buzzword in their PR release. Not TOO much algae-fuel, or the car wouldn't work, of course.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400889)

Only 5% of the fuel is from algae derived products - the other 95% is regular gasoline.

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401223)

"When they factor in or go without the gallons of oil, pounds of coal, cubic feet of natural gas, amount of uranium or other fissile fuel"

Uranium is not a fossil fuel.

"wind turbine hours"

exactly - electricity can be generated from non carbon producing sources. (Including hydro, solar, tidal...

I hear that our local power company has pulled out of the Big Stone II coal fired project. Since they were the lead investor in it I think thats a dead duck...

Re:Fuel + Electric (1)

Frenchman113 (893369) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401745)

He said it was a FISSILE fuel.

Re:Fuel + Electric (2, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29402071)

In most cases these days we are not striving to lower cradle to grave energy use. We are trying to reduce gasoline usage. If a car uses, effectively, twice as much energy to get from point A to point B, but uses solar or some renewable resource (even centralized electricity from hydro plants say), then it's better than gasoline.

how about zero gallons? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399385)

a plug-in hybrid should be able to cross the US on zero gallons of fuel as long as the battery pack is large enough to get to the next plug

Re:how about zero gallons? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400413)

If you think a 2500 mile, 3-day crosscountry trip is long, try doing it in an electric car sometime. You can only travel 200 miles tops, and then you have to stop at a hotel room so you can recharge overnight (8 hours minimum). It's a 13 day trip instead of 3.

Even if you skip sleeping and drive at night, it will still take 7 days. I'll stick with gasoline or diesel.

 

Re:how about zero gallons? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401515)

[edit] [Why was this post rated "troll"? Jeez. Everything I state here is factual.]

If you think a 2500 mile 3-day crosscountry trip in your gasoline car is long, try doing it in an electric car sometime. You can only travel 200 miles tops, and then you have to stop at a hotel room so you can recharge overnight (8 hours minimum). It's a 13 day trip instead of 3.

Even if you skip sleeping and drive at night, it will still take 7 days in your EV, due to the frequent need to stop and recharge.

5% blend of algae fuel only... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399387)

...if you rtfa..., guess a full algae-driven car isn't feasible yet.

Re:5% blend of algae fuel only... (4, Informative)

OnlyPostsWhilstDrunk (1605753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399569)

Sure it is. Of course you'll have something the equivalent of diesel when you're done, not 87 octane gasoline. We can convert any plant matter into diesel pretty easily (just not on the large scale yet)

Re:5% blend of algae fuel only... (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399765)

>We can convert any plant matter into diesel pretty easily (just not on the large scale yet)

Biodiesel blends are readily available across the country. Typically it's a 15% Bio/85% Petrol blend to help prevent clouding problems in lower temperatures.

So yeah, large scale production already in progress.
=Smidge=

Re:5% blend of algae fuel only... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400325)

Diesel engines were DESIGNED to run on plant matter...
Peanut oil, to be precise.
And the inventor was murdered while crossing from France to the U.K...
So that the oil industry could use their dirty by product from petrol production, and re-name it 'diesel'. What we call 'diesel' nowadays is nothing of the sort.

"In the evening of 29 September 1913, Diesel boarded the post office steamer Dresden in Antwerp on his way to a meeting of the Consolidated Diesel Manufacturing company in London. He took dinner on board the ship and then retired to his cabin at about 10 p.m., leaving word for him to be called the next morning at 6:15 a.m. He was never seen alive again. Ten days later, the crew of the Dutch boat "Coertsen" came upon the corpse of a man floating in the sea. The body was in such an advanced state of decomposition that they did not bring it aboard. Instead, the crew retrieved personal items (pill case, wallet, pocket knife, eyeglass case) from the clothing of the dead man, and returned the body to the sea. On the 13th of October these items were identified by Rudolf's son, Eugen Diesel, as belonging to his father.
No one knows for sure how or why Diesel was lost overboard. Grosser (1978)[5] presents a credible case for suicide. There are conspiracy theories that suggest that various people's business interests may have provided motives for homicide. Evidence is limited for all explanations."

Re:5% blend of algae fuel only... (2, Interesting)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401323)

Diesel engines were original designed to run on biodiesel- its only a fact of history that the fossil industry discovered they could make a compatible fuel for cheaper.

Biodiesel mass production is no great technological challenge (the method is pretty simple compared to crude oil refining). Now demand is growing fast, supply is growing fast- 40% growth annually before the recession.

It should also be pointed out that diesel engines can be mechanically modified very easily to run on pure vegetable oil, without needing to convert it to biodiesel. Probably a more sensible option if you're designing an "algae oil car" from scratch, all things considered.

Re:5% blend of algae fuel only... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400377)

Um, yes it is, but the knuckleheads behind this decided they wanted to put it in a gasoline engine instead of a diesel engine.

End result: They could only put 5% in the mix or it would cause engine problems (duh!)

Why anybody would think this stunt helps their cause, or the cause of biodiesel, is beyond me. They should have just got a diesel car.

Green Crude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399391)

Can someone explain this to me??

Re:Green Crude (1, Informative)

seededfury (699094) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399475)

green is a color or pigment; resembling the color of growing grass crude is unrefined: not refined or processed; "unrefined ore"; "crude oil" there you go.

5% Algae? (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399401)

TFA says the car is running on a 5% mix Algae, with the rest being gasoline. What exactly does this prove, apart from being a marketing stunt?

If anyone has better knowledge on what just 5% of this fuel can change to the overall MPG rating, I'd be glad to hear about it, but call me sceptical about the whole claim.

Re:5% Algae? (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399431)

My question about all those 5% numbers..

Wouldn't it be possible to run an old diesel engine (not common rail, turbo loaded) on 10% water or something?

Re:5% Algae? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399587)

Yeah, a good engine should be able to support 5% of pretty much any crap. But water is a bad example because it doesn't mix with hydrocarbons and would just separate at the bottom of the tank.

Re:5% Algae? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399445)

i added 5% of a viral bacteria to my gas tank and i can go around the planet on 20 gallons!

Re:5% Algae? (5, Informative)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399491)

TFA says the car is running on a 5% mix Algae, with the rest being gasoline. What exactly does this prove, apart from being a marketing stunt?

Easy answer - it's just a marketing stunt. As mentioned above, they don't include the oil / coal / etc. used to produce the electricity that will provide, oh, say, 99.9% of the motive power. And since of the .1% (and that's probably an over-estimate) of energy used to move the car that's in the form of liquid fuel only 5% is algae... the real questions are: 1) so what? and 2) who cares? If this stuff is so great, why can't you use it exclusively to go across the country? Or at least provide 50% of the energy?

  Even as marketing stunts go, this just completely sucks ass.

Re:5% Algae? (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399507)

Well they are obviously pretty sure they can do it, or they wouldn't try.

Re:5% Algae? (4, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399519)

I'm really confused why they wouldn't use 100% Algae. Cost isn't an issue for a proof of concept, and its supposed to be a drop in replacement of gas. It should give similar MPG as regular gasoline, unlike ethanol that has a lower energy density.

Re:5% Algae? (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400081)

Probably because then they would need to modify the engine.

Re:5% Algae? (3, Insightful)

torkus (1133985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399655)

Actually the rest is a mix of gasoline and coal (well, electricity derived from it).

Show me some actual numbers of the (usable) energy density of this 5% alge and we can talk. Until then this is a car being driven as an electric-primary vehicle with diluted gas as a secondary source.

Re:5% Algae? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399747)

Makes perfect sense - it's a homeopathic approach to alternative fuels.

Re:5% Algae? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399779)

Is it a gas engine? Generally you use algae to produce diesel. They mention first producing jet fuel which is much closer to diesel. It's essentially kerosine. Given the mileage and the fact they are mixing in algae based biofuel I tend to think it's a diesel. The article didn't say one way over the other. I do find it suspicious that they are only using 5%. You could crank out more than 25 gallons in your garage depending on how you were extracting the oil from the algae. They may be having trouble producing high enough quality oil for fuel. Things like sunflowers produce high quality oil but I believe you only get around 5 gallons per acre so it's no replacement for oil. I wish they had more details and less side show hype.

Re:5% Algae? (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399813)

Did you look at the picture of the fuel? It was green wasn't it? Well?

Re:5% Algae? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400289)

I think this a joke, because we all know marketing people and some $1 food coloring could never create a nice "green bio friendly" photo op.

Re:5% Algae? (1, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400647)

I'm also a little ticked about it actually being only 5%...

but a little silver lining to look at is that 5% of the CO2 emittied from combusted fuel is a net-zero in regards to anthropogenic CO2 production.

----------------------

I just can't wait for JC Venter's (SGI) new $50/barrel algae setup to revolutionize energy in the next decade. We're all gonna wish our cars were turbo diesels when his plants start pumping out affordable diesel with net-zero carbon.

Well, my Honda can cross the US on TWO gallons... (4, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399453)

...of whale oil, since it's actually using gasoline, not whale oil, as its fuel. But, hey, whale oil is fuel, and I don't need more than two gallons of it, so my claim is exactly as well-founded as theirs.

Plug-in hybrids are a great idea. But stop already with the stupid and misleading claims about "gas mileage" based on getting most of your energy from the grid.

Re:Well, my Excursion can cross the US on..... (2, Funny)

captnbmoore (911895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399573)

750$ dollars of Gas. But I still have to connect to the grid when I stop every time. Haven't found a gravity fed gas dispenser yet.

Re:Well, my Excursion can cross the US on..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399683)

What's the exchange rate between $ dollars and regular dollars?

Re:Well, my Excursion can cross the US on..... (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399795)

well with $ dollars you've got square dollars, so just take the square root and you should get a decent approximation. sqrt(750) = 27.3861279 so about $27.39 in normal dollars

Re:Well, my Excursion can cross the US on..... (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399805)

$ = ""

Fixed that for you.

Re:Well, my Excursion can cross the US on..... (1)

captnbmoore (911895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400891)

My brain, fingers and eyes weren't coordinated at the time of posting.

Re:Well, my Honda can cross the US on TWO gallons. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400535)

You're way behind the times. Whale is old hat; snake is where it's at. I've heard it's used in planes and stuff.

MPG debate (5, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399461)

Back to the MPG debate when dealing with electric/hybrid vehicles. Any time one take electricity from the grid, which this car does through the plug, that energy is not counted in the MPG. This makes MPG rating suspect at best. It also merely shifts the carbon load to the electricity plants rather then the vehicle causing the carbon footprint to be distorted.

Re:MPG debate (2, Interesting)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399859)

Which is why you should be looking at grams of CO2/km. You know how much energy the batteries can contain, you know how much energy the fuel tank can contain, making it very easy to do these calculation.

CO2 isn't the only interesting pollutant though, but that doesn't make it any more difficult to figure out.

Fill up entirely on solar or wind power, and your battery energy is pollutant free. And for those who then want to factor in the pollutants released in building those plants: You now have to factor in every single bit of fossil fuel used in building the platforms, moving the people there, feeding them, building the pipe lines, wars fought over fossil fuels, refining the fuel, writing legislation against conservation and so on and so forth.

Re:MPG debate (1)

juancnuno (946732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401579)

It also merely shifts the carbon load to the electricity plants rather then the vehicle causing the carbon footprint to be distorted.

It's not a mere shift. It's much easier to control pollution from one big source (a power plant) than a bunch of little sources (cars). Overall pollution emitted is much less. I asked about this exact thing when I test drove an EV1 when they were the hot thing. "But doesn't it mean that power plants have to pollute that much more to keep EV1s running?" The guy quoted some pollution saving percentage. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Silly to use a Prius (1, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399521)

And why did they choose a Prius? Do they plan to go across the USA on city streets?

Most folks would take a highway, where the electric motor and battery do not get used at all-- they're just useless weight.

Re:Silly to use a Prius (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399725)

One of their distortions depends on having the battery to store most of the energy they will be using to power the vehicle.

Re:Silly to use a Prius (2, Informative)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400015)

You seem to think that a Prius runs either on the gas motor OR the electric motor (but not both).
If you watch the display on a Prius at highway speed (gas motor running), the electric motor / generator / battery are being used in one way or another almost all the time. If they were just useless weight, a Prius would get mileage similar to a typical gas car. In reality, it gets much better mileage and has rather good highway performance. I drive 100 miles roundtrip to work every day and average about 50 mpg at 65 mph, driving "normally" (no concessions for the sake of mileage). Passing acceleration (50 up to 75-80) is surprisingly good because both the gas and electric are combined.

Re:Silly to use a Prius (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400973)

>genrator / battery are being used in one way or another almost all the time. If they were just useless weight, a Prius would get mileage similar to a typical gas car.

Nonsense. The efficiency of the generator to battery to electric motor is no better than 65%. Any energy you pass though this chain is a net loss.

There is no way to come out ahead, or even break even, when running the car on the highway.

Where you get the benefit is at times when you need just a teensy bit of power, like in slow city driving, or need a short boost, like when merging onto the highway. Any other time the electric stuff is just dead weight.

Re:Silly to use a Prius (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401547)

>>>If [battery and motor] were just useless weight, a Prius would get mileage similar to a typical gas car.

Bzzzz. You don't need they hybrid components to get decent mileage. The 45 highway MPG a Prius gets is not really any better than a 44MPG Honda Civic HX, which is not a hybrid. And even though they are no longer made, the old Suzuki Swifts were rated around 60MPG. And in the EU they make gasoline cars (Polos, Focuses) that also get around 60MPG.

Nope, that's not how it works. (5, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400033)

Most folks would take a highway, where the electric motor and battery do not get used at all-- they're just useless weight.

Not how it works at all. The electric motor in my Prius works at all speeds. It contributes to the drive chain when it makes sense to do so regardless of the speed. If I take my foot off the gas at 65mph the car coasts and the motor runs in reverse as a generator and charges the batteries. If I lightly rest my foot on the gas the gasoline motor stays off and the electric has enough torque to maintain speed. Until I hit an incline or need to accelerate, then the gas will pop on. Under most conditions if you watch the Energy display screen, you can see both the gas motor and the electric drive contributing at the same time.

The whole system is pretty dynamic. It's not like there is a kill switch on the motors at 30mph.

Re:Nope, that's not how it works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29401063)

My Prius generates its electricity through breaking. Not sure where you get the info about electricity generation in reverse during coasting.

In any case, my Prius averages only about 45-47 mpg (cross country from Ocean Springs, MS to Poulsbo, WA on a recent trip). The claim of 150 mpg even considering a 95% gasoline mixture would indicate a severe amount of tweaking to the engine. I've heard of 80 mpg (in Japan), but thats nowhere near 150 mpg. This makes the entire PR effort especially dubious in my opinion, even ignoring the fact that 95% of the fuel is simply conventional gasoline.

While algae would eliminate the competition with food crops that create food price distortion and result in substantial degradation of habitats, biofuels whatever their source require HUGE amounts of conventional fuels to grow, harvest, process, distribute, market, administer, etc. It is unlikely they will become an alternative to wind, solar, or nuclear as long term solutions. Nonetheless, it would be nice to see algal biofuels replace corn as corn based biofuels are only profitable because of HUGE government subsides we all pay because presidential elections start in IOWA, and not because of any energy or ecological benefits.

Re:Nope, that's not how it works. (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#29402389)

My Prius generates its electricity through breaking. Not sure where you get the info about electricity generation in reverse during coasting.

Switch your Info screen from Consumption to Energy, and watch what the drive train does when you're on the freeway and you let your foot off the gas pedal. You'll see it switch to charging the battery.

The claim of 150 mpg even considering a 95% gasoline mixture would indicate a severe amount of tweaking to the engine. I've heard of 80 mpg (in Japan), but thats nowhere near 150 mpg. This makes the entire PR effort especially dubious in my opinion, even ignoring the fact that 95% of the fuel is simply conventional gasoline.

Yeah, it's BS. The article mentions a plug. What they're doing is driving as far as they can, filling the car up with regular gas, squirting a little of this bio stuff in, then charging up the modified batteries at a plug in station.

So you're right, it's bullcrap.

Re:Nope, that's not how it works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29401419)

The car is using a Hybrid Energy Manager from Ewert Energy Systems (ewertenergy.com) that allows the Prius to utilize the full power available from the battery (25 KW) at all speeds--yes, even at highway speeds. Essentially, that means the electric motor is being fully utilized regardless of whether or not it is using the low speed EV-mode (the OEM ev-mode effectively becomes unnecessary at that point).

False Advertising (2, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399523)

I just noticed that the past paragraph states "Algaeus only runs on a 5% blend of algae fuel". Basically only 1.25 gallons of algae fuel will be used. The rest of the energy will come from conventional fossil fuels and the electrical grid. Not much of a big advancement.

Now that's what I call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29399599)

a GREEN car.

What makes this an Algae car? (2, Insightful)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399629)

It says no modifications to the gasoline engine necessary.

It could just as easily be an Exxon Mobile car. Or a Chevron car.

I guess the point is to try to draw attention to algae fuel extraction technology, but it's a bit misleading.

Re:What makes this an Algae car? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399793)

No, it needs to be a hybrid. 99% of the fuel they're using to get across the country is in the form of electricity pulled from the grid. Which, of course, is primarily coal powered. If they were actually trying to drive somewhere using 25 gallons of algae gas, the car would die after 700 miles or so.

This claim is about as revolutionary and ecological as my desktop pc; it's been running for years on NO gasoline. Didn't realize I was so green.

Yeah, great idea... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399743)

because this algae are neither the food of some lifeform, nor do they take giant amounts of space for production, for no reason.

Would you please finally offer me energy from concentrating solar thermal power plants?

What do they mean? (3, Interesting)

releaze (697041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399771)

I don't know what they are saying in this article.
They speak of 25 gallon to get from coast to coast. Coast to coast is about 3000 miles (google earth tells me).
A regular 25 gallons of diesel would get you to about 750 miles?
So i was thinking: yeah good deal!

Then further on in the article they say that only 5% of the fuel is algae fuel.
Then what do they mean with the 25 gallon thing? Is 25 gallon 5% of the entire fuel used to get from coast to coast? In that case, i guess you're far better off with running regular fuel :') Or is that 25 gallon just a number? (Just like that previous electric car add about some car driving 1/100)

What did i miss?

Website is forgery giveaway (3, Insightful)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399797)

Come on guys! A single look at the website shows that this is a marketing stunt. It seems to me that there are quite a few "green" sites that are completely misleading.

Currently I am very suspicious of over-engineered websites like these. I remember the site of ThinFilm. Brilliant to look at, technically very interesting and technologically completely misleading (oh, the capacity that they could reach!). Now their main applications seem to be kids toys and RFID for which they are planning to use a few hundred bits.

Let me know when... (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29399821)

...they can pull up to my neighbor's scum-covered swimming pool, fill their tank and then go merrily down the road for another 300 miles.

Sabotage (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29400125)

I am going to put sugar in your gas tank

nice trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400271)

The plug-in hybrid car, which is a Prius tricked out with a nickel metal hydride battery and a plug

I believe the Prius are tricked out from the factory with NiMH batteries.

I think people will be more impressed if they used a Suburban or Hummer.

Kilowatt hours per mile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400307)

Why can't they rate these vehicles in terms of kilowatt hours per mile? It 's about the only useful metric.

Re:Kilowatt hours per mile (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401889)

Probably because it doesn't make it terribly easy to compare MPG with KW/hr.
We're comparing with a fuel-powered vehicle, so we stay within the realm of comparatives.

150 miles per gallon = 1.56809722 l/100km (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400483)

150 miles per gallon = 1.56809722 l/100km
ah... my (Dutch B-labelled) Subaru Justy 2007 drives like 5 l/100km = 47.0429167 miles per gallon...

so that is quite impressive, but "âoePowering our cars with algae-based fuel could be the next Apollo mission.â "... where to get that stuff?

You can get E85 (Ethanol) is already in a lot of places, why not focus on that?

engine wear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29400621)

I would also like to know the long term affects of running an algae based fuel would have on engine wear. Especially the hoses, gaskets and other seals.

Did they have a test run in Algaeria? (eom) (1)

Punk CPA (1075871) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401581)

I said eom, dammit!

What else can we put in the tank? (1)

RsJtSu (569959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401843)

Seems every week we have a new fuel to run our cars on that do 3x-5x better MPG than standard gasoline. Hmm...Seems this has been a long time coming and it will still be a long time coming because I do not see big oil stepping down anytime soon. These articles are a nice "pie in the sky" to think about how great it would be if we could really get 150 MPG and have to fill up once a month, but if you do the math, that means a gallon of whatever we run our cars on would be about $10 a gallon. Sure it's green, but green's gotta turn a profit too.

The Private, Free Market (3, Insightful)

robocrop (830352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29401931)

The truly exciting thing here is that it's yet another 'green' innovation brought to you by the private free market. Just like the Prius itself, this was the result of a business listening to its customers and responding to a demand. It was not brought about by government mandate or fiat. People roll their eyes when you talk about the wonder of the free market, unaware of its massive and beneficial daily impact on their lives. This is why you have to fight to keep it.
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