Algae on the Go

Jul 21, 2011

The algae which once blanketed the prehistoric earth could help power Kentucky’s cars.  Within ten years, plant and soil sciences professor Joe Chappell says algae under study at the University of Kentucky could provide a high value oil.

“We have a direct oil replacement.  Right now, today, we have it.  That has never been demonstrated to this point in time,” said Chappell.

A decade from now, the U-K scientist says it could be widely used to power vehicles.

“No modification needs to be made to the automotive engine, or the diesel engine or the jet engine to utilize these fuels” explained Chappell.

To work on an industrial scale, he says algae must be crossed with a plant which can be cultivated and harvested for its oil.  The scientist says thousands of acres of land are required to make this fuel widely available commercially.

“Obviously, the dilemma is we have to grow food and the farmers have to be dedicated to that and so there’s a cost-benefit analysis that farmers have to make about what they’re gonna dedicated their land resources to,” added Chappell.

Chappell believes the U-K will play a key role in helping Kentucky farmers grow the energy crop of the future.