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Algae As A Solution

The August 19th, 2019 Pebble Magazine article titled "In Bloom: 4 Mind Blowing Ways Algae Can Help Save Our World", there are some very interesting ways algae could replace oil, plastics, and assist livestock with methane release.


Out of necessity often comes the greatest solutions. In the mid-1970's the OPEC oil embargo caused higher fuel prices and shortages. During this time scientists looked at alternative fuels and found algae as a viable option. The interesting thing is that per the Pebble article the "algae would scarf up carbon dioxide to grow and multiply. In burning algae fuel, we would simply be recycling carbon dioxide already in the air." Of course when the embargo ended the research no longer was a necessity.


In the mid 2000's the cost of fuel again rose and the interest in algae fuel rose. The US Navy used algae fuel in their planes and ships to prove it's usefulness. The costs of algae fuel was too high for mainstream use and fracking caused oil prices to drop again causing the interest in this alternative fuel to dwindle. Electric is currently at the fore-front of replacing fossil fuel in automobiles. Airplanes, however, will not be using electric anytime soon and "If the aviation sector were a country, it would be the world’s seventh largest producer of CO2 emissions." Aviation is a huge industry in which using algae fuels would be tremendously useful. There are some companies working on algae biojet fuel but it still requires more time and investment to become mainstream use (more info on this here).


Algae as a replacement for plastic is already happening. Some shoes companies are using algae biomass to to make plastics. A company called Algix "used 12 million pounds of pond scum last year, most of it, in shoes, but also surfboards and 3-D printing filaments." The shoe company Vivobarefoot is already making shoes that use this technology. These are some pretty neat looking shoes, check them out.


The final area discussed was the use of Asparagopsis taxiformis, a genus of red seaweed, added to livestock feed to assist in their digestion and limit bacterial gas. I know many of people who have become vegetarians or vegans due to concerns related to livestock and the environment. Obviously their choices weren't limited to just the methane release but this is something that could help with CO2 release and help those who consume meat to feel better about their decision.


A suggested book if you are curious about more is the book Bloom: From Food to Fuel, the Epic Story of How Algae Can Save Our World. Click below for an affiliate link to the book on Amazon.


Zero Waste Week is September 2nd-6th. Check out this link for more info and to pledge how you will contribute.