Algae Soup Makes Better Biofuel

pressure-cokking algae for energyScientists are also working on creating higher-potency algae. Credit: Photo by: Florian LehrGreenTracker| ‘Algae soup’ represents a new kind of biofuel, a method very different from the current process of cultivating special, oily types of algae, drying it and then extracting its oil. 

The hydrothermal process allows researchers to start with less-oily types of algae. It also eliminates the need to dry the algae, overcoming two major barriers to large-scale conversion of microalgae to liquid fuels.

“We make an algae soup,” said Phillip Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the U-M Department of Chemical Engineering and principal investigator on the $2-million National Science Foundation grant that supports this project. The grant is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“We heat it to about 300 degrees and keep the water at high enough pressure to keep it liquid as opposed to steam. We cook it for 30 minutes to an hour and we get a crude bio-oil.” Read on at Science Daily.