An Austrian company is planning to use algae to produce fuel, reports The New York Times' Green blog. SEE Algae Technology is conducting a pilot project in Brazil using genetically modified algae to produce ethanol.
A problem with using algae is that it has to be grown in large ponds, as sunlight doesn't penetrate the water very deeply, but such large ponds allow carbon dioxide, which the algae need to grow, to easily escape. And so, the company has developed tall silos that use optical fibers to direct sunlight inside. This, the company says, will allow it to grow algae greater densities. "The path to profitability, according to the company, is raising the amount of algae produced per unit of area," the Times adds.
Joachim Grill, the chief executive of SEE Algae Technology, adds that the pilot project is expected to finish in May, and that it will produce about 370,000 gallons of ethanol a year.
The company isn't focusing exclusively on genetically modified algae, the Times adds. It is also interested in using unaltered algae to develop biodiesel or for products used in cosmetics or as nutritional supplements.