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Algae2

on Tuesday, 07 February 2012. Posted in AlgaeB

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Algae in SPlanet articles

We see algae everywhere: small ever growing plant life. Seas, lakes, ponds, rainforests - even puddles after a heavy rain are the perfect environments for algae to grow and multiply. Research is now being carried out to hardness the growth of algae in many new and wonderful ways.

The development of algae as clean technology could be one of the most important areas of progress in our new low carbon economy. There are a vast number of different species of algae and different species have different properties. Some types of algae are being farmed for their biofuel properties. What is great about using algae as a biofuel is that it sequesters carbon as it grows. In other words, it eats carbon on the growth cycle - even if it emits carbon as it burns. It is a closed system, the use of algae in biofuels means there is no net additional carbon in the atmosphere due to it's use. This is why airlines are so interested in using algae based biofuels to power their airplanes. Biofuels are not the only option for algae based oils, cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies are also finding this natural and renewable oil useful in new their products. Where does this algae come from? There are several experimental algae farms springing up throughout the world, including in the UK. A global leader in the development of algae farming and aquaculture is the team at Worcester based Varicon Aqua (http://www.variconaqua.com/). They work with projects throughout the world and have a subsidiary building projects in Malaysia. Varicon are brought into projects to ensure the infrastructure for algae is correct, that the right algae is specified in the project environment, and they assist in monitoring the progress of the project. With the technology being so new it remains essential to ensure any project is supported and monitored on an ongoing basis by people who understand the technology and its correct implementation.

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The ability to farm globally also increases the appeal of algae. The supply can be grown locally to many businesses - which gives important control of supply and quality. In fact, algae can be grown most anywhere ample sunlight can be found. Different algae can be grown to suit the local climate, amount of sun, or the conditions of the farm. Algae doesn't even need to be grown in farms. Leading engineering firms are experimenting with incorporating algae tubes into various architectural features. Algae for the façade of an office building? For the shading in a shopping centre? Why not?


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The actual algae tubes can act as an architectural feature of the building and sun shade to reduce solar gain on the building itself. The result: a much more efficient low-carbon building with an extra "revenue stream": the algae which is then sold on for biofuel production. Best of all, the transportation of the algae to the biofuel facility, and then onward to the biofuel use can be much smaller and much more efficient than we currently see with hydrocarbons such as oil.

What is exciting is the possibility. The research is only getting started, but there is no doubt that our lives will be - whether we know it or not - impacted much more by this ubiquitous green sludge. Algae is the future in so many ways.

Total: 551 words
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q40s7Pm-Nw
Images: 
 - algae farm http://d-click.kegtux.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/microalgues_biocarburant_1.jpg
 - Algae tubes http://solar.calfinder.com/assets/images/blog/algae-farm.jpg

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