Balancing efficiency with ecology is one of our current burdens: how do we get the best products, the best services, the best items without also compromising the environment that allows us to live? Everyone either is or should be highly concerned about how to manage this. Science of course can help in this domain, since we can employ our best minds to figure out the best technology. And efficiency doesn’t just have to mean fast, but also efficient in how it treats the environment.
Algae and oil
Consider the advances regarding oil and gas made by scientists, recently. As Forbes’ Christopher Helman notes: “Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are claiming success in perfecting a method that can transform a pea-soupy solution of algae into crude oil by pressure cooking it for about 30 minutes.”
These talented people have found a way to not only obtain crude oil from a widely available resource. In fact, algae is so ubiquitous, scientists believe that between 70% and 80% of the Earth’s oxygen come solely from this one group.
Oil still matters of course, as any related oil and gas conference will indicate; but, to repeat, this doesn’t mean we can’t still be caring about how to be efficient and “green” about our use and acquisition and use of oil and gas.
Indeed major players are taking an interest, too. As Forbes’ green tech writer, Todd Woody points out:
“Witness the $20 million deal Solazyme announced last week with Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. to develop new algae oils for the oleochemical industry. Oleochemicals are natural oils derived from palm, cocoanut and other plants and are used to make everything from detergent to plastics.”
This isn’t small time then, or the interests of only a few maverick insiders.
What we want
If we can convince more people to take seriously green interests, there is a greater capacity in general to do more. That big players already are interested speaks volumes and indicates that technology is not only becoming more efficient but greener too.
That we can create fuel in less than an hour from the same entities that give us the majority of oxygen is an incredible, yet underreported, event.
What more lies in the future of green tech is something exciting to consider – such as material that is stronger than steel – and we can only hope that innovation as amazing as algae oil possibilities arises again.