“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, February 08, 2008

Simply stated, instead of buying oil from scum, we can make oil from scum.

Algae: the perfect biofuel



Maritime biologist Professor Hein de Baar of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research says that algae are ideal as biofuel. Algae yield ten times as much biofuel compared to for instance corn or rapeseed, are easy to grow, are not a human food source and can be produced CO2 neutral. Professor De Baar hopes that within a few years there will be cars running on algae oil.

Algae are the most common plants on earth. What is more: the planet's biomass is for the most part made up of algae. If biofuel could be produced from algae especially grown for this purpose, CO2 emissions could be reduced substantially. Professor De Baar explains how:
"Algae need CO2 to grow, you could call it 'algae food'. So an intensive algae nursery would require large quantities of CO2. So you need to keep adding CO2, which would be no problem at all if you were to hook up your nursery to a power plant.
Just imagine, the plant's smoke stack emits CO2, which is captured and injected into large containers with algae situated next to the plant. The algae, which will start to grow very fast, can then serve as fuel for the power plant, thus creating a closed circle without any emission of CO2."


Biofuels have a bad reputation because some of them also serve as food for humans. In
Latin America prices of corn have gone up because the crop is being used for fuel production. There is no such problem with algae, even though some species are used as animal fodder, but that's at most a by-product.

Food production and algae nurseries are not incompatible. Professor de Baar describes what a future algae nursery may look like:
"Big containers, which would have to be transparent to allow sunlight to enter. It could be a vertical container of several metres high, which would be aerated with air rich in CO2. Another option is to have a mixture of algae and water flow through a series of horizontal pipes.
At first the water would be quite clear, with some nutrients added, but it would end as a kind of pea soup, which can be pumped straight into a factory. The algae would be filtered out so they could be processed as fuel."


Algae are such a logical choice when considering options for biofuel production, that the question arises why it wasn't taken up ages ago, but Hein de Baar says it's a matter of simple economics. When crude oil was still selling for only 20 US dollars a barrel, serious research into the potential of algae as biofuel held little appeal. However, with the price of a barrel of light sweet crude now hovering around the 100-dollar mark, it has become cost-effective.

The University of Groningen in the Netherlands has set up a consortium with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Dutch businesses, which in a few years is to result in the large-scale growing of algae for biofuel. Professor de Baar is fully confident that the enterprise will be a success.


  1. You didn't get tornadoed, did you, Ruf?

  2. Lots of discussion of the general topic Here though not so much on algae itself. This is the site Rufus cites alot.

  3. "Bush says election is fight over his policies"
    The Sun revolves around my ego.

  4. Anyone have any ideas on sending out the posse to find Rat?

  5. I believe this was his last post on the site:

    "desert rat said...
    Well, the human genome project has found that humans migrated, out of africa after the Toba super volcano erupted 74,000 years ago.

    the worldwide human population shrank to as small as 10,000 people or even less
    That the entire human population of the modern world came from those survivors.

    That we are all brothers in blood.

    That the Jews want to differentiate their sub-grouping of tribal offspring, suits me.
    Be proud of the blood, keep it "pure". Regulate and track human pedigrees, as if people were dogs or horses. Use seletive breeding to improve or inbreed your "race".

    Just do not expect or ask for help from the US in such an endevour.

    Sounds like a bunch of NAZI propaganda to me, but because it's "old" it's acceptable and even celebrated by some.

    Wish you well, but if those 900,000 Russians are not Jews, then Israel, as a Jewish homeland, is truly destined for the ash heap of history. That they may kill a lot of others on the way out the door, regrettable, too.

    But then the Knights Templars will have won, in the end, if that is the course the Israeli choose.
    A blast from the past.

    The world brought down by tribal passions. Old Hickory was right, there is no room for tribes in the modern world.
    Thu Jan 31, 08:50:00 AM EST "

  6. He has an e-pub. Something-Bridle,IIRC. You can monitor that.

  7. Most likely, he went down to Panama. During the same period I have been to the Bahamas and Costa Rica. It is a great time to be in Central America, at least along the Pacific side.

  8. Rat was right on Pakistan being a big threat--

    "Pakistan continues to sell nuclear weapons technology (to clients known and unknown) even as Musharraf denies it--which means either that the sales are being carried out with Musharraf's secret blessing,, or that he did not know and is no more in control of his country's nuclear program than he is of the band of jihadis in the tribal belt and Pakistan administered Kashmir, which have merged with al-Queda and with whom he has wrapped up deals.

    When politicians in London and Washington describe Musharraf as a key ally in the war on terror, what they really mean is that he is their only Islamic ally in the region. So with the White House and 10 Downing Street unable to countenance an alternative, Musharraf's Pakistan remains at the epicenter of terror, a disingenuous regime with its hands on the nuclear tiller.

    It will only be a matter of time before the rising tide of Sunni extremism and the fast flowing current of nuclear exports find common cause and realize their apocalyptic intent. There are plenty of ideologues, thinkers and Islamic strategists who are working towards precisely that goal, and here is a regime in Islamabad that has no hard and fast rules, no unambiguous goals or laws, and no line that cannot be bent or reshaped....

    Robert Gallucci, Bush's former WMD adviser, who tracked Pakistan's nuclear progress from its inception at Multan in 1972, goes even further: 'Pakistan is top of the list. It is the number one threat to the world at this moment in time. If it all goes off, a nuclear bomb in a US or European city, I'm sure we will find ourselves looking in Pakistan's direction.' "

    ending of "Deception, Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons"

    The book describes the utter lack of concern among these people about spreading stuff around. Actively doing the spreading. Said some 100 canisters of enriched materials (dirty bomb stuff at the least) had gone missing from their stockpile. Seems like a well sourced book.

    I'm going to Moscow. Hell of a time to be going there....later.

  9. If Obama thinks he can have a chat with these people he is terminally naive. For all we know, he may be sympathetic to them. Obama would be a disaster in all the ways I can think of.

  10. "I believe this was his last post on the site.."

    I guess dArt figured that we're all tribalist nazis here, and that the Rothchild clan isn't so evil after all.

  11. I chuckled when I read this at Belmont:
    "Jrod said...

    I saw a nude lesbian midget at Baker Beach a few years ago. Now that's something you don't see everyday."

  12. The Nanosolar company was founded in 2002 and is working to build the world’s largest solar cell factory in California and the world’s largest panel-assembly factory in Germany. They have successfully created a solar coating that is the most cost-efficient solar energy source ever. Their PowerSheet cells contrast the current solar technology systems by reducing the cost of production from $3 a watt to a mere 30 cents per watt. This makes, for the first time in history, solar power cheaper than burning coal.

  13. Nanosolar said it was building a 430-megawatt plant in San Jose, expected to be completed this year, and another factory, which would assemble more than 1 million solar panels annually, near Berlin (see Nanosolar to Build in San Jose).

    CEO Martin Roscheisen confirmed Tuesday that preparatory work has begun on the German site. The Luckenwalde facility, expected to begin making panels in the first quarter of next year, will be able to make "multi-100" megawatts of solar panels annually once it's fully ramped up, he said.
    12/12/07 12:10 PM
    It's interesting to think about the number of jobs created in Germany as a result of their favorable renewable energy incentives. I think Merkel had it pegged at around 350,00 across the supply chain in the last couple of years - counting construction, engineering, processing, installation, sales, etc. When's the last time an American sector added 350,00 jobs over such a short time frame? Possibly in the 1940s?

    We've got elections coming up in about 11 months, and none of the candidates are really talking about these 'green collar' jobs, which is disappointing since job creation ought to be a bread and butter issue. There's so much shortsightedness in terms of supporting a renewable energy industry in the U.S. I believe that if the job creation element of it were well publicized, the voting public might force it to become a larger campaign issue.

  14. You mean Bridle and Bit - he's a Managing Editor from there I think.

    He's fond of banana republic mock turtlenecks in all seasons and is generous with remaking pots of coffee. His office urinal etiquette is impeccable and unerring. He's always the most disarming rapport, a true charmer and an ideal Global citizen.

  15. Why pretend that there is free market solution to energy when the world is held up by a cartel?

    Crude surges over OPEC talk, output disruptions
    By Moming Zhou & Polya Lesova, MarketWatch
    Last update: 2:50 p.m. EST Feb. 8, 2008
    Print E-mail RSS Disable Live Quotes
    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Crude-oil futures rose for a second day on Friday, surging more than 4% to approach $92 a barrel, as some delegates of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said the cartel should cut production to shore up prices, and as production disarrays in North Sea and Africa continued.
    "Oil prices have been trending down and bulls have been looking for excuse to turn the direction," said James Williams, an economist at WTRG Economics, an energy research firm. "I believe the market is overreacting to the news."
    Crude for March delivery rallied $3.69, or 4.2%, to $91.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in late afternoon trading. The market hasn't seen such a big daily gain since October. It rose nearly $1 in the previous session.
    OPEC should agree to cut its output when it meets Mar. 5, two OPEC delegates said Friday, according to Dow Jones Newswire. OPEC would trim output if prices slip to $80, according to one delegate, while another said $70 would be unacceptable to most members.
    Oil prices played off the OPEC news, said Phil Flynn, vice president of futures brokerage Alaron Trading. "The OPEC cartel is once again showing that they have no regard for the world economy," Flynn said.
    "Lower demand coupled by economic hurdles in the U.S. warrants a cut," one unnamed senior delegate told the newswires. "Even if we were not facing economic concerns in the U.S., it is normal for OPEC to usually cut production for the lower demand season."

  16. Nice to see you again Hu. Happy New Year.

  17. Court Freezes $12 billion in Venezuela assets
    Rick Moran
    Hugo Chavez's seizure last year of a huge oil project in the name of the state has not come without costs. US oil giant Exxon has sued Venezuela to recover costs from the project and a judge has agreed to freeze Venezuelan national assets:

    The company said it has received court orders in Britain, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles each freezing up to $12 billion in assets of Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA. An Exxon spokeswoman said the total that could be frozen worldwide was $12 billion.

    Exxon also won a court order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in December freezing more than $300 million belonging to PDVSA, as Exxon argued it would have little chance to recoup its investment from PDVSA should it win its arbitration.

    PDVSA, one of the largest suppliers of crude oil to the United States, was not immediately available for comment. The South American nation has an extensive overseas refining network, including the Citgo refining and marketing branch in the United States.
    Making Chavez pay for his stealing is the only way to discourage this sort of theing worldwide. If a country wants to switch to a socialist state where all the assets are owned by the government, that's fine - as long as they pay companies for what they built.

    Meanwhile, Venezuela oil production continues to decline. But as long as prices stay high, Chavez should have plenty of cash to make his mischief in South America.

  18. How about this:

    In a conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson Friday excoriated MSNBC's David Shuster for suggesting the Clinton campaign had "pimped out" 27-year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls to Democratic Party superdelegates on her mother's behalf. Wolfson called the comment "beneath contempt" and disgusting.

    I can't wait to see Daddy Pimp in our face wagging his finger saying "how dare you, how dare you!"

  19. Bill, defender of young woman interested in politics.

  20. Doug

    From a previous thread, one could define the Heartland as middle America, anything that can't "break off" and float away. You know, the area the libs and MSM call the "fly over" area.

    Anyway my little slice is 50 miles south of the Okie line, which, by the way is really sucking. We have 35 mph winds from the South today.

  21. "Rat was right on Pakistan being a big threat--"

    Cedarford was right about some stuff too.

  22. "If Obama thinks he can have a chat with these people he is terminally naive."

    Kissinger had a chat with "these people." Hell, bob, we have chats with "these people" every damn day. The mistake is in purposefully making a headline of it, investing any political prestige in it. That almost always turns out badly.

  23. Some things are by their very nature best left to the quiet work of nameless, faceless functionaries. If it fails, it fails. If it works, woo-hoo!

  24. I could have a chat with 'em too, but I know nothing would come of it.

    They seem to have the idea a nuclear weapon is some kind of toy, something to play with.

    Allah be praised.

  25. "I could have a chat with 'em too, but I know nothing would come of it."

    Well, that's a fair starting point.

  26. YES! This is what we should be on the track for in the first place. It'll serve us until fusion works, and even if the polywell/Bussard fusion reactor works out, we still need transportable high energy fuels to power our vehicles.

    If all these pan out, the future looks good. Better yet, the Arabs and their oil will find that the rest of the world does not consider them indispensable.

    As for solar power, I'm not convinced. The energy used to produce solar cells does not seem to be factored into their efficiency.