Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tonight on KQED QUEST: Algae Power. (7:30 PM)

QUEST on KQED Public Media.

I'm not surprised by the lack of rigor in a "science" story like this on KQED. Not that it is aimed at a popular audience and hence limited in its presentation, but it fails to critically examine whether this is a feasible replacement for a significant portion of the gasoline consumed in this country each day. Sure, whoever wrote the story is somewhat skeptical, questioning whether it can live up to its promise, but there is no serious number-crunching -- an examination of the costs involved with respect to energy input and materials, and so on. Where's the thorough EROI analysis?

To take one example: the plan of Aurora Biofuels is to use 1000s of acres of land to produce 120 million gallons each year, using just saltwater and non-arable land. Where's the water going to come from? How much energy is required to move that water to the algae farms? What other nutrients are required to grow the algae? And how much energy is needed to extract the oil from the algae?

Mainstream liberal environmentalists, unlike the peak oil heralds, just don't get it. They're looking for a techno-fix just like everyone else, one that will make the perpetuation of the American way of life possible. It's the mentality of many (or most) liberals in San Francisco and Berkeley?

Related links:
Niyogi Lab, UC Berkeley
NOVA | scienceNOW | Algae Fuel: Ask the Expert | PBS
Aurora Biofuels
Aurora Biofuels Doubles Algae's CO2 Uptake and Fuel Production

No comments: