3 News: Oilgae: The Fuel of the Future

Fiona Hodge writes for 3 News about a new hope for sustainable alternative fuels: algae.

Certain types of algae are able to produce large amounts of oil – Niwa is currently conducting research into algal biofuel in Christchurch.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“One of the cleverest algal biofuel set ups is right here in New Zealand, where some of Christchurch’s finest sewage is being converted into biofuel by scientists at NIWA. The scientists have built large shallow ponds that are mechanically mixed (think water wheels). The algae drift about the ponds converting carbon dioxide and the nutrients from the effluent, with the help of sunlight, into biomass. This algal biomass is then harvested and fed into their splendidly-named Super Critical Water Reactor which, with the help of heat (300ºC) and pressure (20MPa) results in bio-crude oil. This process replicates the conditions which converted ancient algae into the fossil fuels we have today.”