Algae has been the darling of the biofuel industry for the past few years, but it hasn't gained much traction recently—until now. OriginOil, a startup that hopes to turn "algae oil" into a petroleum competitor, announced this week that a pilot project to harvest algae from coal plant pollution was successful.
The project, which began earlier this year in conjunction with Australian energy company MBD Energy, uses micro-algae to capture CO2 (a byproduct of coal-fired plants) from one of MBD Energy's plants. The micro-algae use the CO2 to quickly reproduce, creating algae biomass that OriginOil can use for fuel.
Now that the technique has been proven to work, MBD will add algae production capabilities to three of its plants. The company estimates that each of its power plants could potentially grow to produce 11 million liters of algae oil for OriginOil. We would rather not see coal-fired power plants grow at all, of course, but at least companies like OriginOil can reap useful byproducts.
OriginOil also recently announced that produced hydrogen from the sun at a level comparable to photovoltaics. The company's Hydrogen Harvester captures hydrogen as a byproduct of algae production.