Pond Scum Power

Article excerpt

Utah State University (USU) researchers are using an innovative approach that takes oil from algae and converts it to biodiesel fuel. USU is currently conducting research on algae and plans to produce an algae-biodiesel that is cost-competitive by 2009. Algae, plainly referred to as pond scum, can produce up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre and can be grown virtually anywhere.

"This is perhaps the most important scientific challenge facing humanity in the 21st century," said Lance Seefeldt, USU professor of chemistry and biochemistry. "There are several options for solving the world's energy problem, but at this point, none of them are realistically viable for long-term use."

Biodiesel is a clean and carbon-dioxide-neutral fuel that is becoming more popular, but most of the current product comes from soybean and corn oil. As supply and demand grows, so does the price of soybeans and corn. People and animals rely on soybeans and corn as a food commodity, eventually causing competition between commodities and growing enough product. …