September 25 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment Year: General Rating: 4
Bio energy is a powerful concept.
The idea is simple. Tap the power of biology for energy production, energy conversion, energy storage and carbon utilization.
The most common forms of energy (coal and oil) arrived here via ancient biochemical pathways. Coal is ancient biomass likely ferns. Oil is likely ancient micro organisms that lived in shallow seas. In both cases life (biology) used the power of sunlight to re-arrange carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. (Algae and bacteria are better converters compared to plants and also result in higher hydrogen to carbon ratio.)
Today, we use this ancient bio energy to power our world. When we drive our cars we are burning chemical bonds created by algae and bacteria.
So instead of extracting this ancient bioenergy, why not grow it here?
Growing Energy using Algae and Bacteria
Today there are dozens of bio energy startups tapping the power of plants, algae and bacteria to ‘grow energy’.
The most disruptive idea being explored by startups is to channel coal stack carbon dioxide emissions into water filled bags with carbon-eating algae which can re-purpose carbon and hydrogen into fatty acids which can be used to create liquid biofuels.
‘Growing Energy’ Meme Background
One of the turning points of the ‘growing energy’ meme was a talk delivered by Juan Enriquez at the 2007 T.E.D. Conference. This 18 minute talk is a wonderful first step in answering the question – ‘why biology’?