Oil from Algae

I recently read how our military runs an ongoing research program to find ways of turning algae into an oil-like fuel usable in motorized equipment. I think that’s good, for military planning, finding a source of fuel not dependent on an oversea supplier has got to be a top priority. If war ever engulfs the Middle East, the nation’s strategic oil supply would not last long. However, in my opinion, oil from algae doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that can supply the vast amounts of energy our highly-mechanized armed forces require.

It got me to thinking how this algae-into-oil project receives funding and has serious scientists and engineers willing to work on it. Yet, try as I might; I’m unable to find anyone who’ll give the principles of the ferromagnetic generator even a cursory examination.

I suppose it’s because of the way research funding works. Turning algae into small amounts of oil has already been done. Now, it’s a matter of getting the process to produce real-world quantities. So a scientist knows from the start he’s going to get some positive results even if they’re not spectacular. Continued funding and encouraging peer-reviews are assured.

Not so with the ferromagnetic generator. While this idea would allow solar power to become tomorrow’s energy bonanza and far outstrip even today’s oil production, there’s no up-front assurance of success. Which means anyone researching the new generator risks complete failure–and failure implies peer-embarrassment along with the dreaded possibility of increased difficulty in getting any more grants.

Still, I can’t help thinking that if we feel desperate enough to spend real money on the algae-into-oil project; it would make sense to risk a little cash on a concept that, if successful, would completely end our dependence on foreign oil. Plus, it would put to rest any worries about global warming and create so many new jobs the economy would once again thrive.

Perhaps my problem is that I’m a dreamer, and not a realist.

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