Tag Archives: Biomass

Algae to crude oil: Million-year natural process takes minutes in the lab

Tom Rickey, PNNL, (509) 375-3732

Process simplifies transformation of algae to oil, water and usable byproducts

RICHLAND, Wash. – Engineers have created a continuous chemical process that produces useful crude oil minutes after they pour in harvested algae — a verdant green paste with the consistency of pea soup.

The research by engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was reported recently in the journal Algal Research. A biofuels company, Utah-based Genifuel Corp., has licensed the technology and is working with an industrial partner to build a pilot plant using the technology.

In the PNNL process, a slurry of wet algae is pumped into the front end of a chemical reactor. Once the system is up and running, out comes crude oil in less than an hour, along with water and a byproduct stream of material containing phosphorus that can be recycled to grow more algae. Continue reading Algae to crude oil: Million-year natural process takes minutes in the lab