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Oil Wells To Be Replaced By Labs?

“Petroleum was formed by the compression and heating of biomass over millennia. Chemical engineers at the University of Michigan hope to do it in minutes.

They are applying heat and pressure on microalgae, exploring a method to create affordable biofuel that could replace fossil fuels. They also hope to use the byproducts of bio-oil production as feedstock for more biofuel.

“The vision is that nothing would leave the refinery except oil. Everything would get reused,” chemical engineering professor Phillip Savage said in a statement. “That’s one of the things that makes this project novel. It’s an integrated process. We’re combining hydrothermal, catalytic and biological approaches.”

Savage and his team, funded by a $2 million National Science Foundation grant, aren’t the only ones trying to make bio-petroleum. California startup Sapphire Energy says it could produce 1 billion gallons of algal fuel annually by 2025. Blue Marble Energy creates fuel using algae found in polluted waters. Chevron has joined San Francisco company Solazyme in developing algal jet fuel.”


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