aviationbuff
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Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:08 pm

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...g-promotes-algae-based-energy.html

Quote:
As Boeing prepares for more biofuel test flights, the airframer is focusing its efforts on accelerating the development of algae-based energy sources.

The rapidly growing raw material could potentially be converted into large amounts of fuel without taking away from food supplies. Algae does not require freshwater to thrive.

Boeing is focused on “next generation” alternatives fuels, not palm oil or ethanol-based fuels, as a company spokesman explains,“We saw a spike in rice prices. Those are things we don’t want to compete with.”


During the recent past we have heard a lot about biofuel, Virgin tried Palm based biofuel, ANZ opting to test Jatropa based biofuel and now Boeing is promoting Algae based biofuel.

Which of the above 3 have more potential to replace jet fuel.

[Edited 2008-06-11 08:12:31]
 
KELPkid
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:12 pm

I'll put my bets on the Algae  Smile The stuff is amazingly prolific and grows in a short period of time. I'll gladly send Boeing a sample of the particular variety that grows in my koi pond, I swear I skim at least 10 pounds of the stuff out in a week.
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flexo
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:19 pm



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 1):
I'll put my bets on the Algae

 checkmark 
Algae really is the only renewable energy source that makes any sense from both an economic an ecologic point of view. Granted, right now it is still too expensive to be economical but I can see a point where it'll be a cheaper source of energy than crude oil (even before the price hike that is).
 
SlamClick
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:23 pm

Does this mean they will move the Renton plant over next to the Green River?
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BAE146QT
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:11 pm



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 1):
I'll put my bets on the Algae :Smile: The stuff is amazingly prolific and grows in a short period of time. I'll gladly send Boeing a sample of the particular variety that grows in my koi pond, I swear I skim at least 10 pounds of the stuff out in a week.

Algae would be fantastic precisely as you say - it grows like bindweed and beause of its short lifecycle, you can satisfy the whole carbon cycle requirement: that CO2 was in the air about a month ago.

Anyone got any good links explaining what the efficiency is like? I'm not a biochemist so something involving glove puppets and short words would be appreciated please!



(Off-topic and regarding your pond, blanket weed would be good too. Also known as 'Angel Hair'. I've got a 7000 litre pond that grows about 10 pounds of it a week as well.)
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DocLightning
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:43 pm



Quoting Flexo (Reply 2):
Algae really is the only renewable energy source that makes any sense from both an economic an ecologic point of view. Granted, right now it is still too expensive to be economical but I can see a point where it'll be a cheaper source of energy than crude oil (even before the price hike that is).

It's a simple issue of scale. Especially with this new vertical-growth method, it won't require much landspace, and the landspace it does use will probably be in low-value areas (deserts).

With a supportive government (i.e. a President who doesn't have his hands in the pockets of PetroCo's) and some demand, a few thousand square miles could provide all the fuel needed by the U.S. And remember, a thousand square miles is a square about 33 miles on a side, so we're not talking about a massive amount of space here.
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flexo
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:38 pm



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 5):
It's a simple issue of scale. Especially with this new vertical-growth method, it won't require much landspace, and the landspace it does use will probably be in low-value areas (deserts).

Very true, but the scale issue might not be as simple as you think. Right now all there is are laboratory sized experiments. They are promising, no doubt, but the type of algae they are using is rare, expensive and difficult to breed.

But don't get me wrong, IMO this is still the most promising energy source out there, but it might be a while until we see it at larger scales.
 
nomadd22
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:31 pm

Algae is just another form of solar power. How efficient is an algae pond at converting solar to chemically stored energy compared to a modern solar farm?
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SlamClick
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:31 pm



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 7):
Algae is just another form of solar power. How efficient is an algae pond at converting solar to chemically stored energy compared to a modern solar farm?

Well, I guess before we can quantify how much more efficient, we need to know HOW a solar farm can fuel an airplane.
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DocLightning
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:40 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 8):
Well, I guess before we can quantify how much more efficient, we need to know HOW a solar farm can fuel an airplane.

There are many possible schemes. However, photosynthesis is less efficient at converting solar energy into chemical energy than solar arrays are at converting solar energy into electricity.

By most studies, less than 1% of incident sunlight is converted to chemical energy by a plant, although efficiency varies from species to species and with the intensity of sunlight (above a certain intensity, a phenomenon called "photorespiration" takes over and reduces photosynthetic efficiency).

The most efficient solar panels can convert 20-30% of incident sunlight to electricity. So solar panels are more efficient, yes, but they can't convert sunlight into a liquid. Plants can. Until we can figure out how to photocatalyze the fixing of CO2 and H2O into hydrocarbons and then de-hydroxylate the hydrocarbons, we're going to have to make do with photosynthesis.
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nomadd22
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:20 pm

Mobil has been making synthetic lubricating oil from pure hydrogen and carbon stock since the 60s. It shouldn't be too big a leap to make kerosene like substance from it. Pulling the Carbon out of the air would be main technology they'd have to develop. Splitting CO2 and H2O into it's parts you can do in your garage.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:21 pm



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
here are many possible schemes. However, photosynthesis is less efficient at converting solar energy into chemical energy than solar arrays are at converting solar energy into electricity.

But due to the weight of accumulator batteries, I think you'll have a problem running planes on electric power.
I think high energy density fuels, like today's kerosene, are the only way to run a plane. So you'll have to synthesize them from e.g. algae.
I think that future developments in biotechnology (like specific bacteria, which break down the biomass to convert it into the useable hydrocarbons) will help.

Jan
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DocLightning
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Sun Jun 15, 2008 11:09 pm



Quoting Flexo (Reply 6):
Very true, but the scale issue might not be as simple as you think. Right now all there is are laboratory sized experiments. They are promising, no doubt, but the type of algae they are using is rare, expensive and difficult to breed.

And that's what biotech is about. It's an issue of technology. Think of how far, say, jet engines have come in the last few decades. This technology can make similar leaps.
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MD11Engineer
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:16 am



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 10):
Mobil has been making synthetic lubricating oil from pure hydrogen and carbon stock since the 60s. It shouldn't be too big a leap to make kerosene like substance from it. Pulling the Carbon out of the air would be main technology they'd have to develop. Splitting CO2 and H2O into it's parts you can do in your garage.

The processes required to convert air, coal and water into synthetic hydrocarbon oils have been known since WW1 (Bergius-Process, Fischer-Tropsch-process). They were developed and used in Germany in war time, since Germany has large coal fields, but very little oil, but also in South africa during the embargo.
The type of hydrocarbons manufactured mainly depends on the parameters (heat, pressures) used during the manufacturing.
The drawback is that the processes both use energy to make oil.

Jan
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nomadd22
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:35 am



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 13):
The drawback is that the processes both use energy to make oil.

Hence the discussion of solar cell versus algae efficiency. How efficient would a solar powered synthetic fuel plant using atmospheric carbon instead of coal be compared to algae based fuel. It would still take considerable energy to convert algae into fuel.
Both plans would use sunlight, water and carbon from the air to make hydrocarbons. To be self sufficient, the algae method would have to burn part of it's product to supply the energy for the process, but presumably a lot less than it would take to make fuel from CO2 and water. A million square feet of solar would cost a whole lot more than a million square feet of ponds, but would give you a much simpler and more efficient system.
Using shipped in carbon dioxide from coal fired power plants might upset the purist ideas of being carbon neutral, but as long as the alternative is sending that CO2 into the atmosphere, it would serve the same purpose as taking it from the air.
I'm just having a hard time seeing a plant that works by shoveling thousands of tons of pond scum into a hopper as being as practical as one that shovels electrons into wires.
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SlamClick
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:04 pm

At the risk of sounding like the fool on the hill (who sees the sun going down as "the Earth spinning 'round") here's a thought.

Why don't we just slow down?

The only reason we need so much jet fuel is because people are unwilling to take 120 days to get from Europe to China. If we were willing to take that much time we would use no oil, we'd use wind. Who the hell do we think we are that we have to get there in ten hours?

Every possible argument in favor of humans moving faster than the wind is based on a conceit we can no longer afford.

Every possible argument in favor of materials needing to be transported faster than the wind is an admission that we are too bloody stupid to plan ahead.

Data can still go at light-speed but we could slow down. That or admit that saving the oil reserves or saving the atmosphere for our grandchildren was just a bunch of high-flown rhetoric.

I'm not arguing against advancing the technologies leading to more efficient fuels and fuels that don't fund terrorism, but perhaps, if the situation is half as serious as Al "snake oil" Gore suggests, then we need to reconsider the US and Europe buying our produce from some other hemisphere and taking our holidays somewhere other than Brighton or the local park.

Sorry about slipping into the non/av mode here but I'm serious about this. All "need" for transport might be in line for some re-thinking.

Oh, there's money to be made. I forgot. Sorry, forgot about that.
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:56 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 15):
Every possible argument in favor of humans moving faster than the wind is based on a conceit we can no longer afford.

Every possible argument in favor of materials needing to be transported faster than the wind is an admission that we are too bloody stupid to plan ahead.

Medevac vehicles and aircraft present rather valid arguments, I'd say...  scratchchin 

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SlamClick
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:04 pm



Quoting 2H4 (Reply 16):
Medevac vehicles and aircraft present rather valid arguments, I'd say...

Only if you buy into the idea that one human being is more valuable than another. Not a concept that can be proven.

Anyway, freed of the need to import rutabagas from Nicaragua maybe ther'e be more gas for our ambulance.

Slow down people. All the speed you need should be had by setting the skys and royals or maybe rigging studs'ls.

Besides, sailing ship captains don't have to retire at 60 or 65.
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dl767captain
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:57 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 17):
Only if you buy into the idea that one human being is more valuable than another. Not a concept that can be proven.

In a way it is, for example a doctor who can save 30 lives this month is probably more important than i am right now, so yes sometimes one human is more important than another.

But back on topic, algae fuels is very smart, it doesn't deplete our food sources like using corn, it grows rapidly using sunlight, and you could grow it out in the desert where there is intense sunlight almost all the time. It could be home grown for US airlines which would help bring down cost since transportation costs would be less. It's a very good idea.
 
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:13 am



Quoting DL767captain (Reply 18):
In a way it is, for example a doctor who can save 30 lives this month is probably more important than i am right now, so yes sometimes one human is more important than another.

For that to be true you must assume that the hypothetical 30 lives have a positive value. If we could build a list of people like Ted Bundy and Charlie Manson and so on, the doctor would have an increased negative value.

Quoting DL767captain (Reply 18):
you could grow it out in the desert where there is intense sunlight almost all the time

A while back I toyed with the idea of manufacturing topsoil from yard clippings. (not just my own yard) As I live in the desert I postulated doing this locally. Soon discovered a problem with my scheme that yours shares.

The desert is very dry. I still have twenty year old lawn clippings lying around that are green beneath the first layer.

Since there are other demands on desert water we'd have to establish some priorities. How about growing it in central California. Former rice paddies should do nicely. Water comes down the west slope of the Sierra Nevada every spring.
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dl767captain
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:16 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 19):

The desert is very dry. I still have twenty year old lawn clippings lying around that are green beneath the first layer.

I was watching something on CNN the other day about algae based fuels and the way they accomplished it was (sorry it's a little hard to explain for someone to visualize) like a bunch of plastic bags meshed together standing like 10ft tall, all interconnected where the algae/water would continuously move through the system so all would be exposed to the sunlight. It required very little water and worked extremely fast.

But i really don't care where they decide to grow it as long as they get going with the alternative fuels quickly. It looks like they're finally getting off their butts and are going to speed up development.
 
flexo
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:29 pm



Quoting DL767captain (Reply 20):
was watching something on CNN the other day about algae based

This might be what you saw:


This is definitely the way to go if algae is what you are planning on doing. An open pond system would just be to expensive considering the excessive evaporation in hot areas.
 
BAE146QT
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:02 pm

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 15):
Every possible argument in favor of humans moving faster than the wind is based on a conceit we can no longer afford.

I realise that this has sort of been covered above, (and I note that the military would probably disagree with your point of view, though whether we actually need wars is of course an entirely separate philosophical question), but I would like to take it a step further.

Why are we so intent on flying meatbags around to attend a conference? I asked this question 8 years ago of the Strategy and Planning people at HSBC (when I used to work for them) and was told that the technology couldn't take it. Well now it can. Perhaps there are certain things that are better done in person, but I reckon that accounts for a small percentage. The rest of it is that business trips are often seen as a perk.

I attended a meeting of 12 people on Friday where half of them had driven for 3 hours - each in separate cars because they started from their respective homes - to attend a half hour meeting. At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I suggested that the follow-up meeting should be done with a teleconference coupled with NetMeeeting. After all - we've already paid for that infrastructure. We did, and it not only was it more productive, so were all the participants for the remainder of the day because we didn't waste 36 man-hours - an entire working week - shunting bodies around. Now exchange the cars for domestic flights - except where they had to drive to the airport of course.

I know that such an opinion won't be popular among the aviation faithful, but surely we can all see that unnecessary journeys are just adding to a problem that we need to fix. Not because I want to hug a tree, but because it's the sensible thing to do and it'll free up (fuel) capacity for flying stuff that really needs to be flown. And we can work on alternative fuels in parallel with that effort and all come out of this better off.

[Edited 2008-06-17 10:06:55]
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readytotaxi
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:14 pm

To some airlines, algae-based energy sources would be the meal service.  Big grin  duck 
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flexo
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:26 pm



Quoting BAe146QT (Reply 22):
I attended a meeting of 12 people on Friday where half of them had driven for 3 hours - each in separate cars because they started from their respective homes - to attend a half hour meeting. At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I suggested that the follow-up meeting should be done with a teleconference coupled with NetMeeeting

Considering that we live in a free market economy, if a more efficient, profitable way of running a business is out there, it will eventually succeed.
Since large corporations move slow it might take a while until things change but if it's better it'll succeed.
I am personally somewhat doubtful that personal meetings become obsolete. Personal interaction is just a too important part of human communication to be swept away by technology. Anyway, just a personal opinion, maybe in ten years I'll be proven wrong who knows?
 
BAE146QT
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:27 pm



Quoting Flexo (Reply 24):
Since large corporations move slow it might take a while until things change but if it's better it'll succeed.

We're talking about banks so of course you are correct here.

Quoting Flexo (Reply 24):
I am personally somewhat doubtful that personal meetings become obsolete.

Well that depends on how good teleconferencing gets. Most of what we need to achieve doesn't require personal presence and I actually haven't even met (in person) 20 or so people I currently work with. But of course, we are working together, not striking deals. Perhaps it is this that will always require the personal touch.

Don't get me wrong - I'm obviously not anti-aviation. But if it is to survive the current fashionable trend away from burning dinosaurs, we need to meet the environmentalists halfway. I expect that airlines might suffer (cough) Silverjet (/cough) but those who survive will do so on their own terms in the new world.
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dl767captain
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RE: Boeing Promotes Algae-based Energy

Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:13 am



Quoting Flexo (Reply 21):
This is definitely the way to go if algae is what you are planning on doing. An open pond system would just be to expensive considering the excessive evaporation in hot areas.

Yes that's actually what it was, it just makes sense, it seems so easy!

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