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5 Ways to Use Algae for Fuel

        Auto | Biofuels

5
Ground Transportation
A man fills his car's tank with gasoline at a gas station that also sells biofuels on April 7, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.
A man fills his car's tank with gasoline at a gas station that also sells biofuels on April 7, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Part of the pain of high gasoline prices is knowing that people in another part of the world have you over a metaphorical barrel. And no one, not even your president, can do anything about it.

The appeal is strong, then, of a fuel that could be homegrown, produced cheaply and used to thumb our collective noses at foreign oil lords.

Algae is not that fuel yet -- it's still too expensive -- but the potential is there.

In September 2009, a modified Toyota Prius completed a cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York with the help of an algae-based gasoline. The "Algaeus," a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle, made the 3,750-mile (6,035-kilometer) trek in just 10 days (allowing time for publicity stops). Sapphire Energy, one of the major companies working to develop algae as a cost-effective fuel, provided the proprietary mixture of algae-based gasoline for the trip. The concoction ran in the Algaeus without having to modify its engine and according to the drivers, "performed flawlessly" [source: Sapphire Energy].

Besides making a great headline, the journey of the Algaeus suggests that algae-based gasoline could one day become widely available as a "drop-in" fuel that runs in existing vehicles.


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