On all the Earth there is no crop that can beat algae for production. One acre growing algae will out produce the next nearest crop by a factor approaching thirty times. It is easy to grow, easy to harvest and easy to process into what ever you want whether it be food or fuel.
All of the oil on earth was produced by algae and other organic residue over 100's of million years it has been supplying our energy needs since the late 1800's. Mankind is going to deplete in three hundred years what it took nature hundreds of millions of years to produce. Yet algae might be the answer to our energy problems today. This is the crux of several different research studies ongoing at several different universities. How to produce energy from the simplest of all life's organisms is what they are seeking.
This research suggests that all of the country's energy could be answered if 0.2 percent of the land area of the US were to be utilized for raising algae. In fact enough algae could be raised on an area about the size of Maryland, 15,000 square miles to supply all the country's transportation needs. The technology exists right now to grow algae using human and animal waste as fertilizer.
Isaac Berzin of MIT is able to use his experimental process that uses power plant emissions to fertilize his algae thereby cleaning up the power plant wastes which are carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After the algae soaks up the carbon dioxide like a huge sponge it is harvested everyday. The resulting algae can be used to produce biodiesel and ethanol. The algae contains both oil that can be squeezed out using existing pressing methods for bio-diesel and a green flakey residue that can be further processed into methanol or ethanol.
All of this is happening under the wan rays of a New England sun. Everyday is harvest day at the places the algae are grown. The stack emissions are allowed to bubble up through the algae ponds to cleanse the emissions of 40% of their carbon dioxide load, which far passes the terms of the Kyoto treaty. It also takes 86% of the nitrogen dioxide load.
It usually costs a utility company using conventional methods a large bundle of money to clean up their stack emissions. This one makes a valuable product that they can sell for a profit.
Aside from its uses to supply the raw material for fuel algae has been used as a food source since time immemorial. It can be used as a food itself, or processed as organic food additives.