Pond scum an alternative to foreign oil

Algae grown in outdoor raceway ponds in Southern California (Photo courtesy of PNNL)

Instability in many of the world’s largest oil producing nations has gas prices on the rise and policy makers again considering alternatives. But biofuels, which were once heralded as a way to wean the country off of imported foreign oil, also come with their own disadvantages.

Recently, fuels made from algae have gotten increased attention, but they can require enormous supplies of water to produce and it’s remained a mystery how much fuel could realistically be generated this way. In a study unveiled earlier this month, researchers have determined that if the United States dedicated every suitable acre to producing fuel from algae, the nation could generate an amount equivalent to nearly half its annual petroleum imports for transportation.

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