Thursday, February 15, 2007

With all this biofuel talk the last few days, and my penchant for banging on about beer, I couldn't miss this chance: a US microbrewery is partnering a biofuel company to make biofuel from algae.

Helen wants to see 3.4% of all vehicle fuel pumped in New Zealand to be biofuel. And those with their ear to the ground will of course know that Aquaflow (of Marlborough, and mentioned here last month) have already road tested biofuel from algae.

But this is even better! The US brewery are "providing CO2 - a byproduct of fermentation and boiler operations - that helps the algae grow. After several weeks, the microorganisms are harvested and their oil is extracted and refined into biodiesel."

Making biodiesel from algae may help quieten criticism levelled the poor overall efficiency from plant based ethanol. Brasil it seems is one of only a few places where net energy gains from "standard" biofuels gan be gained.

Not only is it good to see a technology being advanced that's also being developed in NZ, it's great to see beer by-product being used. Cleaner production is a good thing.

This is yet another example of carbon offsetting. Offsetting directly, rather than paying someone else to deal with the issue, is just the path progressive businesses need to be looking at. Our dairy industry has a steady supply of milking shed shit that goes unused. Wine and beer makers usually trash their production waste. Wine and milk are often located in centres of production - so there are concentrated amounts of by-product for use. Martinborough and Canterbury for wine and dairy biofuel respectively makes sense to me.

Regardless, imagine driving your biofuel powered car to the bottle store along a road made from recycled glass to pick up a crate (along with the rest of your shopping of course). You'd be inclined to think you were making a difference!

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