Thursday, April 19, 2007

Playing with Pond Scum

[A] small group of entrepreneurs—those who grow commercial algae—see biodiesel’s pain as an opportunity. The green slime is rich in lipids (read: oil), meaning it could theoretically yield far more oil per acre than veggies. Estimates vary widely. Some claim it could yield anywhere from 3,500 to 20,000 gallons per acre, as compared with about 680 gallons per acre from palm, the highest oil-yielding crop.

Even better, because it would require less land, and could be grown in factories or ponds—not on arable land—algae could help stave off criticism that biofuels threaten the food supply, and could slash prices for biodiesel. “It’s very exciting,” says Laurence Alexander, a vice president at the research division of investment bank Jeffries & Co.

RED HERRING | Playing with Pond Scum

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