CO 2

Sola Roof Continuous Culture of Algae

Chlorella algae manifest an altered metabolism at high CO 2 concentration in the growing media (dissolved in the sea water). In this case the lipids go from the normal level of under 10% and increase to 60% while the protein component that is normally about 60% fall to 10%. This information was developed by Arthur D. Little back in the mid 60's. I found this and allot of other data at the UN Library Headquarters in N.Y. - but I lost the file some time ago. It is time to start to pull together some information on the current state of the art.

In those days the mass culture of algae was going to "feed the world" and end the specter of mass starvation due to population growth. The great thing about the algae is that it needs no petrochemical fertilizers to grow. It can synthesize proteins by pulling N2 from the air (micro bubbles that are in the water). That is why turbulent flow is so good for rapid growth. It gives access to light, CO 2 and N2 - which is all that is needed for growth (necessary minerals are in the sea water). The entire biomass is edible or can be converted to other products. Land area is not needed - every home and community could be self sufficient in energy and organic nitrogen (that can be fed as a "green manure" to the higher plants). One of the comments at the time was that people would not eat so many algae - but the answer is to use the algae as nutrient to grow other plants. This gets us off the petrochemical dependency of "modern" agriculture on petroleum derived nitrogen fertilizers. Please let me remind everyone that today's agriculture accounts for about 16% of our petroleum consumption (tractors, fertilizer, chemicals, and refrigeration and transportation to market) not including the cooking of food (which is some countries is a big item of concern).

I would not see a problem with taking this interest to a Biomass or Bio Energy? list if anyone has a reference to one that is not completely dominated by agriculture crops like corn to ethanol etc. On the other hand I see the Sola Roof community as having a sufficiently wide area of interest to bear some discussion of this subject - especially in the light that these systems can be integrated into our building envelops as an urban energy concept rather then an agricultural concept. Indeed it is only controlled atmosphere production (with elevated CO 2 environment) that can convert solar>biomass>Bio Fuel at a rate that will pay. The agri-energy systems exist only because of huge multi-tiered subsidies. The petrochemical industry has corrupted the agricultural sector into a producer of toxic food and the largest single "industrial disaster" of modern times - and one that is in the process of devastating the environmental & ecological equilibrium of the world. If you want to "get off oil" you might want to think about what to do about our worldwide (throw GM into the mix for good measure) toxic food industry.

This is why I see us returning to the garden - low-tech/high-science and shunning the agri-food industry (and the agri-energy fraud) if we want to feed ourselves in the coming era of oil depletion and resource scarcity.