Biological Crude – Potentially the New Power-Lubrication Source for Engineering
Biological crude oil from Algae may soon become a commercial reality. So say engineering researchers from Michigan University in the US. Recent research seems to indicate the possibility of converting 65% of Green Marine Micro Algae into what is being called Biological Crude or “Biocrude” for short. This in itself is not new news. But being able to create the Biological Crude in one minute is! Results of the research have just been published at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
We Can’t Wait a Million Years
With traditional crude taking as long as 1 million years to form from marine organisms, it won’t be very long before existing known sources that are financially viable to extract, become totally depleted. Waiting another million years for naturally occurring stocks to regenerate just isn’t an option. Solar power looks like being a real possibility as an alternative energy source, but now too – so does Biocrude.
Flower Power Alone Won’t Keep the Wheels of Industry Turning
Recent news about the new Energy Flowers has added power to the argument for using solar powered energy going forward. But let’s not forget about lubricants. Companies like PRV Engineering rely heavily on lubricants to keep their machines turning. Without a suitable lubricant, the wheels of the engineering industry’s machines will eventually grind to a halt. Biological Crude may just be the answer.
Today’s Synthetic Oils
There are already a number of synthetic oil substitutes on the market. The problem is that whilst these alternatives do work:
(a) They are more expensive than petroleum based oil
(b) They use just as bad environmentally because of the chemical ingredients.
Whilst companies like PRV Engineering can and do use synthetic oils as lubricants, they know they are not the best long term solution. Biological crude may well be the way forward if it can be produced in an economically viable way.
Faster Processing Seems to Be the Answer
Previous experiments to produce Biological crude from Marine Green Algae took anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes to yield results, so a 1 minute process is an enormous difference! It appears that the faster method of heating the Algae at 1,100ºF helps to avoid the unwanted reactions that have previously plagued the process.
Size Matters – The Smaller the Better
The other exciting news is that the faster processing time means that the size of the reactors needed to create Biological Crude can be smaller. Reducing the size of the reactors means that they won’t be so expensive to build. This in turn means that the cost to manufacture the Biological Crude itself reduces too!
Improving the Natural Chemical Composition
There are still hurdles to be cleared. At the moment Biological Crude has to be pre-refined to remove its extra oxygen and nitrogen. However, the signs are good in this direction too. The Savage Research Lab, where further experimentation is taking place, has already produced Biological Crude with a 97% Carbon/Hydrogen content.
The New Power and Lubrication Source for the Engineering Industry?
PRV Engineering CEO Simon Jones is one engineering company chief exec who is hopeful that the research will eventually produce an economically viable Biological Crude that can be used to both power and lubricate the wheels of the engineering sector in years to come. Only time will tell!