This is such a cool idea that I just had to come at it, even though I’m a few months behind on the original announcement. In September, 2009, a new car aptly named the “Algaeus” completed it’s cross country tour successfully and refueled the idea that algae might bring natural solutions to our high tech problems after all. The algae fueled car traveled 3,750 miles across the country, spreading the word of new possibilities. After it completed it’s tour, it then joined the “Green Energy Bus”, the Veggie Van Organization and the FUEL team for a college tour to further spread the green word. The “Green Energy Bus” is a retrofit interactive classroom that shows students just how the new concept works.

The Algaeus is the brainchild of Sapphire Energy, the leader in algae-based renewable fuel, who joined with the team behind the award winning film FUEL, to complete the first cross-country car tour powered by a blend of algae-based gasoline in an unmodified engine. It took a total of 10 days after starting in San Fransisco and making it’s way to New York City, to which it arrived on September 18. The Algaeus presents a tantalizing peek into a very likely future which excites me. Sapphire Energy provides the fuel for the extraordinary car, containing a mixture of hydrocarbons refined directly from algae-based Green Crude and extracted through Sapphire’s proprietary process. However, there really is nothing extraordinary about the car in reality. It could be your car, the way things are hopefully going to turn out!

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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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