Shell Oil formed a joint venture with HR Biopetroleum called Cellana and they plan to produce biofuels from marine algae. Shell, which owns a majority stake in the venture, will start production of a demonstration facility on the Kona coast of Hawai'i Island immediately. The production volume for the facility, which is on a site leased from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), will be small but the main goal is to research which natural microalgae species produce the highest yields biofuels. Scientists from Hawai'i, Mississippi and Canada are a part of the project that will also explore the potential of algae to capture CO2 from power plants. Graeme Sweeney, Shell Executive Vice President Future Fuels and CO2, says:
Algae have great potential as a sustainable feedstock for production of diesel-type fuels with a very small CO2 footprint. ... This demonstration will be an important test of the technology and, critically, of commercial viability.
Sweeney denies this is all a publicity stunt but they are smart to invest in biofuels from marine algae. The economic viability of the process has to be proven but algae is the most promising non-food source of biofuels, providing 15 times the yield of rape seed, and using the ocean would mean farmland that could grow food would not be a part of the biofuel equation. It's really too bad Shell is a giant oil company. I wonder if anyone will ever take news like this from oil companies seriously?
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