Biofuels have been trendy for farmers trying to raise money, but as a long term solution for petroleum depletion, it is often mocked among scientists because the amount of land that would need to be turned over for production would severely reduce the land needed to raise food in a world where overpopulation is still an issue.
However, the Spanish claim that they may be on the brink of something big …. maybe.
They seem to have produced synthetic petroleum, and they claim (read: no certainty) that it may be able to eventually produce enough petroleum in a day as some OPEC members export in the same time. That is a ballsy claim, but if it works, and production is sent across the world, it would allow the world to wean itself off of natural petroleum, lower fuel prices, yadda, yadda.
The article claims that industrial scale production is still a decade or two off … which sounds optimistic to me … assuming they have it right.
The key is using algae instead of crop land … algae reproduce much faster than crop plants, and can reuse the same space over and over again, meaning that you don’t need to put aside any crop land for fuel production. Further, the claim is that this process requires using carbon dioxide that would otherwise be dumped into the atmosphere, so on one level, it is a more ecologically friendly form of petroleum (vs. petroleum that took carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago).
I hope they’ve got something right about this!