Algae Biodiesel in Alaska?

September 5, 2009

Bernie Karl Chena GreenhouseThe Alaska Journal of Commerce did a piece on Bernie Karl (of Chena Hot Springs fame), where he talks about developing algae biodiesel in Fairbanks.

Bernie may be crazy, but he’s crazy brillant. His Chena Hot Springs resort developed low-temperature geothermal when some said it couldn’t be done.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

One summer day, as visitors relaxed in a pool of hot water, a moose strolled up to take a drink from a nearby lake filled with algae. That lake is also a part of Karl’s grand plan.

“This pool is growing a special type of algae that only grows in Alaska,” said Karl. “It grows because of the amount of daylight and carbon dioxide emitted by other plants and animals, so it multiplies many times faster than other algaes.”

Karl explained one could start by taking 30 acres pools with this type of algae. Cover them with greenhouses. Then pump in the carbon dioxide created from landfill trash (filtering out the bad gasses) into special furnaces that would heat the water and the greenhouses.

The algae would be energized to grow, while absorbing high concentrations of carbon dioxide.

Then, once the pools fill up, the algae can be harvested for its lipid oil. That oil, in turn, could be distilled into a bio-fuel.

“This algae has 44 percent oil by volume, we refine the oil and make jet fuel,” said Karl.

Veg On!

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3 Responses to “Algae Biodiesel in Alaska?”

  1. Trupti Says:

    Hello,
    I found about your work going in alaska. Im a student and was planning for a project on bio diesel from algae, could you please tell me which type of algae is it which has 44% oil? Which type of algae would you suggest for easily availability, easy culturing and maximum oil content for Indian sub-continent? I hope for a quick reply.

  2. Michelle Says:

    The great thing about being rich is that you are considered eccentric instead of crazy 🙂

    Wouldn’t that be methane from landfill gases, not CO2? Of course you get the CO2 from burning the CH4…but that’s further down the road…

    Hope it works out!


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