Green Oil: Scientists Turn Algae Into Petroleum In 30 Minutes

Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are claiming success in perfecting a method that can transform a pea-soupy solution of algae into crude oil by pressure cooking it for about 30 minutes. The process, called hydrothermal liquefaction, also works on other streams of organic matter, such as municipal sewage. And the crude oil created is lightweight and low in sulfur and can be “dropped in” to refineries that process fossil crudes.

“It’s a bit like using a pressure cooker, only the pressures and temperatures we use are much higher,” said researcher Douglas Elliott in a statement. “In a sense, we are duplicating the process in the Earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We’re just doing it much, much faster.”

It only makes sense that scientists should be able to figure out how to turn algae into crude oil. After all, most of the oil that we drill out of the ground was formed by algae and other sea-borne flora that piled up at the bottom of the ocean over millenia, then got compacted and heated over eons and transformed into petroleum.

via Green Oil: Scientists Turn Algae Into Petroleum In 30 Minutes – Forbes.

Categories: Energy, Transportation