New Process Converts Algae to Crude Oil
in Less Than an Hour


                                                                                                   photo credit: Mach by Hong Leong Bank

Convert algae into oil in less that an hour? Yes, and thanks to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) which is run by the Department of Energy. The results were published in Algal Research.

To begin the process, PNNL starts with a slurry of algae and water. Once the slurry is dumped into a reactor, the slurry is exposed to heat levels of 662 degrees F (350 degrees C) and pressure up to 3000 PSI.. IN less than an hour, the algae has changed into a dark mixture of crude oil, water and byproducts. This process simulates natural conditions in which algae takes millions of years buried beneath earths pressure to become crude oil.

Traditional refining techniques are then used make jet fuel, gasoline, and diesel. The byproducts are mostly potassium and nitrogen. 

It takes about 65 Million years to covert plant material into crude oil, Now it can be done in under 1 hour.

Algae is a great source for biofuel, PNNL has been able to streamline the process and are now able to convert using wet algae VS dry algae which is very expensive and is a lengthy process. This technique has been licensed out to a biofuel company named Genifuel Corporation in the hopes that they will build a plant to make the biocrude on a much larger scale.