Green Oil from the Desert?

I’ve often wondered what our more arid regions are going to do if things just get hotter and drier. Do we adapt or just close shop and move? True to human nature I suspect most of us will adapt.

We are seeing a regular trail of ‘bio-fuel’ research projects and prototypes hit the press, some great, some not so great, but they are all aiming at providing an alternative [or at least parallel] energy source that is truly sustainable, unlike palm oil which has turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing – massive habitat loss.

This current research project out of South Australia has some interesting potential. For now it seems embryonic and they’re still working towards commercialisation, but I think it’s got legs.

Algal fuels

Associate Professor David Lewis, Associate Professor Rachel Burton and Professor Geoff Fincher pictured at the Adelaide University Wine Innovation Cluster building. Picture: Bianca De Marchi.

If I try to jump to the near future when they’ve hopefully reached their $1/litre target [yes please!], I can see a rapid multiplication of applications – once the process is refined we’ll be incorporating this into city planning, open spaces, vertical parks and gardens, planted facades and backyards… we seem to be good at miniaturising our technologies. We’ll also see an increase in the types of algae that can do the job, and therefore even more applications.

Algae holding an aircraft in the sky is a kind of neat thought.


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