DARPA, the well known research arm of the Pentagon, has just announced that they will soon be able to transform algae into biofuel at costs that are competitive with fossil fuels. The agency is on track to achieve a cost of $3 dollars a gallon for jet fuel, and their plan is to then develop a large-scale refinery that can produce around 50 million gallons per year. Is this the beginning of the biofuel revolution?

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Currently there are significant problems with biofuels — the clearing of land, the use of land for fuel instead of food production, and the difficult-to-assess greenhouse gas emissions. However, if we are going to produce them, creating them from waste or algae seems like the way to go.

DARPA’s new project is expected to deliver roughly 1,000 gallons per acre of farm. By next year, if all goes well, the US Air Force will be testing a 50-50 biofuel blend in their planes. Even better, part of their plan involves creating facilities that could create the fuel essentially anywhere on the planet.

Granted, all of this is currently going towards greening the military — an oxymoron if we’ve ever heard of one. But one must still remember that research projects developed in the military have often changed the world for the better.


Via Guardian UK