Algae is the energy source of the future. One day soon, biofuels made from this renewable resource will power everything from cars to boats to planes. In fact, the aviation industry hopes to finish the conversion to algae-based biofuels within five years.
Algae can be grown almost anywhere, and algae farms are indefinitely scalable based on the nearby resources. Using algae for biofuel is a closed carbon system. The process will not create any new carbons, and the algae will sequester any carbon dioxide produced from burning the fuel.
Growing algae requires very little maintenance, but the turnover rate is fairly quick, so extraction and processing happens on a regular basis.
This plan proposes algae “trees” which will provide shade to cars parked beneath. The algae is grown in small reusable pods, which are harvested much like fruit. After the algae is extracted, the pods are replenished and hung to grow more algae. This system is an extension of the “Paper Parking” project, and works symbiotically with it. The algae production takes advantage of areas where parking is heavy and switchgrass can’t be grown. During the fall and winter, when switchgrass is dormant, algae can be farmed as long as the temperature remains above freezing.
Each algae “fruit” pod holds 1 quart of liquid. This equates to roughly 1 pint of biofuel after processing. Each “tree” holds 255 “fruits”, or the production equivalent of 32 gallons of biofuel per week. One tree could power a 2010 Hummer for 512 miles, or a 2010 Prius for 1632 miles-that’s enough to drive from Columbus to Washington DC and back, twice!