I know it seems like I’m dedicating January to posts about the uses for algae but so much is happening in this sector, it’s hard to ignore. Besides the fascinating news that scientists now believe that algae production in the oceans will help alleviate the carbon explosion, I know hear about big advances in algae production as a biofuel. It seems that OriginOil has announced the successful automation of its Helix BioReactor system. The Helix is a groundbreaking technology that optimizes algae growth, making large-scale commercial algae production scalable.

The design of the Helix BioReactor utilizes low-energy lights arranged in a helix pattern combined with a rotating vertical shaft design, which allows algae culture to replicate exponentially within a smaller installation footprint. This system allows the replication of algae on a large scale basis, making it a viable source of fuel for all purposes, including automobiles. Now, the automation of this system is a key step towards continuous algae production, taking the work out of human hands and onto equipment that can run 24/7. Talk about reduction in manpower and labor costs! Like all automation, this process allows greater control of the growth environment and efficient, low-cost industrial algae production. It means that algae can be produced in jaw dropping tonnage and done so cheaply.

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Amancio Ortega, the billionaire who runs Spain’s Intidex textile empire and founded the Zara fashion chain, is suddenly moving into alternative energy. He is creating a global network of renewable energy sources. The name of this new company is Capital Energy and Mr. Ortega is the Chairman and chief shareholder. He appears to have been motivated by an offer made by Galicia’s regional ministry for innovation and industry. In response, Capital Energy will provide up to 2,323 megawatts of energy from various alternative sources and independently set up some 20 energy “parks”.

Mr. Ortega is the richest man in Spain, having founded Zara fashion years ago from a kitchen table in his sister’s home in La Coruna. He is launching this new venture from the same modest area, Galicia, which is in northwest Spain. So far he has produced a handful of projects and established energy bridgeheads in three continents. The beginnings may be modest but his worldwide ambitions are obvious. I am sincerely hoping he is as successful with this new project as he has been with pantsuits in the past. As a measure of earnestness, he has said that he intends to invest more than 2.54 billion in Capital Energy over the next 18 months, which is more money than many struggling countries could provide for their own initiatives. Think of the lives that can be changed with this. Mr. Ortega obviously believes that renewable energy production on a world scale as the next big thing.

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