Within the article Scientists Turn Algae into Crude Oil in Less Than an Hour, author Tuan C. Nguyen describes the process in which a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington had gathered together algae and water and created a form of crude oil very similar to petroleum, all in less than an hour (Nguyen). As we’ve been discussing and learning in class, algae have proven to be the future of biofuels due to its many benefits as compared to petroleum. Throughout the last few decades, scientists have been making attempts at simplifying the process of refining algae in terms of growing the organism and the costs associated with production and farming. The researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are making strong strides towards achieving a better way of creating alternative fuel using algae.
Algae are under such close research by many laboratories as it appears to be the perfect alternative to the use of petroleum, this is because algae-based fuel very closely resembles petroleum due to both being created by the same sorts of organisms prior to manufacture as well as how both are process in quite similar ways. The process of refining the algae and water down to oil is referred to as hydrothermal liquefaction which essentially acts as a pressure cooker with steeply elevated temperatures and pressures. This process is essentially the same that occurs within the earth, just sped up thousands of folds over. The yield of this process is extremely cleaner and more beneficial than that of petroleum. Petroleum productions yield harmful chemical by-products such as sulfur, while algal production creates a lightweight, clean substance that can readily be used for things such as gasoline and jet fuel and yields a by-product that can be repurposed for various energy sources like electricity as well as fertilizers (Nguyen).
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