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06. Safe fragrances
05. DNA mass information store
04. Garden mounds for permaculture
03. Silver as high-tech material
02. Micro needle transmits medications and light
01. Electricity storage in gravity systems

12. An eye on space hazards
11. Water purification through freezing
10. Solar shingles
09. Trinary code
08. Vegetation-based battery materials
07. Indoor position location
06. The interface industry
05. Hypersonic aircraft
04. Re-usable glass packaging
03. Vein patterns as personal ID
02. Magnet making bacteria
01. Ultra-light solids

12. Ultrasound in water
11. Projected touchscreen
10. Electric airplane
08. Glass hard disc
04. Nuclear hazard
03. Clearing “sewer soap”
02. Water harvesting
01. Tea bag size personal water filter

12. Human powered water transport
11. The Technium
08. Bio-remediation of oil spills
07. Cleaner coal
05. Oil spill remediation
04. Solar towers
03. Brain-computer
02. Biodiesel producing bacteria
01. Hydrogen producing bacteria

12. Levitating living organisms
11. A new blue
10. Polymer magnets
09. Electric vehicle batteries
08. Implantable cancer monitors
07. Algal biofuel
06. Geo-Thermal Heat Pump
05. Battery powered roadster
04. Fenestration
03. Text to voice
02. Implantable ID chips
01. Air cleansing building material

12. ebooks
11. Energy Harvesting
10. Private space-flights
09. Virus identification chip
08. Bio-fuels
07. Electronic financial trading
06. Bio-remediation
05. New tech agriculture
04. Manufactured Hotels
03. Magnetic Induction
02. Genetic Vaults
01. Solid-state lighting

12 Bacteria in agriculture and industry
11. Blue revolution
10. Electronic nose
09. Nuclear sarcophagus
08. Shape shifting technology
07. Thought activated technology
06. Green is cool - make me look green
05. Electronic 'drugs'
04. Super-canals and super-ships
03. Environmentally friendly technology: greens versus grays
02. Agriculture: food,fiber and fuel
01. FPGA floating-point performance surpasses microprocessor

08. Energy sources for electricity compete
07. Universal interface (UI)
06. Magnetic levitation
05. Light pipes
04. Storage of electricity
03. Automotive engines
02. Molecular assembly
01. Introducing Technoscan Newsbriefs

Vol. 4, No. 7, July 31, 2009
ISSN 1932-3018

Algal biofuel
Positioning this technology in the
Functionality Grid
Reformatted from: Van Wyk, Rias J: Technology - A Unifying Code, 2004, SMG, Cape Town, p.34. Based on: Ropohl, Gunter: Eine Systemtheorie der Technik, 1979, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich and Vienna, p.178.
This Newsbrief deals with the prospects for a new kind of alternative motor fuel, a liquid fuel manufactured from a biological feedstock - algae. In terms of the Atlas of Technological Megatrends it is included in the functionality of energy storing.
Four factors draw attention to developments in this area.
  • High oil yield per acre
  • Can be grown on waste land
  • Can use sea water
  • There is no threat to food production
The essential feature of algal biofuels is that they are based on photo-synthesis. This involves the conversion of sunlight into chemical energy that is then stored in the form of carbohydrates, oils and proteins. The oil can be converted into diesel fuel that serves as a store of energy for diesel engines. In the case of algae the photosynthetic conversion is among the most efficient of any plant. (2nd Algae Biofuel Summit, September 8 to 10, New Delhi, India).
The announcement of Exxon Mobil that it would invest $600 million in the development of algae based biodiesel, has triggered much interest in this field. Tentative estimates place the present cost of producing motor fuel from algae at $30.00 per gallon. However, the functional performance metric is high. "Algae can produce almost 2000 gallons of fuel per acre of land used compared with just 250 gallons per acre of corn-based ethanol." (Crooks, Ed, "Exxon's algae to join biofuel push",, August 11, 2009.) Cost reducing technological progress, including genetic manipulation of algae, is planned through cooperation with Synthetic Genomics.
As one of the world's largest companies, Exxon Mobil is signaling a significant new strategic direction into technology-based innovation. Many should follow.

© Rias J. van Wyk, 2013. Editor.