Zack Westall is a Senior Contributor to TDA. He graduated from Florida State University and fills his spare time with reading, movies, games, guitars, beer, and beaches.
Slime Saves The Day
As sources of renewable and clean energy become more and more crucial to the survival of our way of life, researchers are looking in unexpected places to find it. This time the new source of power has manifested itself in the form of algae. That’s right…algae. No longer is algae just that gross, skuzzy, and often odoriferous substance that accompanies stagnant water as NASA is conducting research that hopes to harness the power of algae being grown in plastic bags off-shore.
Apparently the farms take in waste-water from sewage plants. For algae, the impurities in the contaminated water, namely phosphates and ammonia, are like steroids. In addition to “cleaning” the sewer water, eventually the algae grows saturated with lipids (fatty oils), and are ready for harvest. Post “crop yield,” the farmers would recycle the plastic and start over.
As with any potential source of energy the environmental ramifications must be considered. NASA estimates that as much as two square miles of plastic would be needed to produce 2.4 million gallons of algae oil per year. While the logistics of the endeavor are still being discussed, a lot of grimy plastic has got to be the favored option when compared to say, millions of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, here’s looking at you BP.
Read more at Grist.