Algae have extraordinarily diverse sex lives

OK, I buried the lede.  The post is actually not the sex lives of algae.  But I was fascinated that CNN chose to list this among the "story highlights" of this article.  The story supports my sense that if biofuels are ever going to make sense, they are not going to be made from corn.  The story also reinforces the notion that biofuels are just another type of solar energy, though they are in fact even more inefficient than our not-there-yet solar panels in converting sunlight to usable energy.  The only reason biofuels currently look more economic than solar are the enormous operating subsidies and the much lower capital costs  (though even the latter is open to argument since biofuels have huge capital costs in terms of land, but that generally is factored in as "zero" because the land is already being farmed.)

Before you get too excited about algae, note from the picture that the algae at this farm is grown in plastic packets that I would bet my life require more hydrocarbons to produce than the algae inside them provides.


  1. John Moore:

    A friend who manages a farm in Iowa points out that at current corn prices, most of the ethanol plants are going to go bankrupt. Good riddance. Then there's today's Drudge link on the growing fight against biofuels by countries with economies on the margin, because it is pricing them out of food.

    Let's see... DDT ban killed more (African malaria) than Hitler did. How many can we kill (through starvation) with biofuels.

  2. mjh:

    Aren't fossil fuels also another form of solar energy? Aren't they the fossilized remains of algae and other water born microorganisms laid to rest at the bottom of the ocean a gazillion years ago? Ultimately, isn't almost everything (with the exception of nuclear and geothermal) a form of solar energy?

  3. Allen:

    For how long did the govt researchers hammer away at algae in a pond & how long did it take the private researchers to come up with something different to overcome the short comings fo teh pond model?