New breakthrough process turns algae to oil in 1 minute

algae to oil

There has been a new biofuel breakthrough by researchers at the University of Michigan, who have turned wet algae into a viable substitute for oil. The amazing part? It’s all under a minute.

This process was developed by an Arthur F. Thurnau professor and a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, Phil Savage, and doctoral student Julia Faeth. The found that  when you superheat algae in a thin metal tube and then place it in 1,100-degree F, the algae heats to over 550 degrees in a minute. This, in turn, turns roughly 65 percent of the plant into biocrude.

“We’re trying to mimic the process in nature that forms crude oil with marine organisms,” said Savage in a press release.

Algae is no stranger to the fuel-world: Biofuel producers use dry algae and convert it into biocrude. This process is a breakthrough because it uses wet algae, it is efficient and ergo a lot cheaper as well, and it breaks down proteins and carbohydrates resulting in a better yield.

Currently, the biggest obstacle with algae fuel is cost—many algae fuels go for over $20 a gallon, making them economically unviable. But if this new method works out, the cost could significantly decrease.

Susmita is a freelance writer and editor in the Greater New York City area with her own blog on natural beauty (Cherry Stained Lips). In her spare time, Susmita enjoys cooking, traveling, dappling in photography, art history and interior design, and moonlighting as a therapist for her loved ones.