Algae Mines

underground-algae-growth-light-emitting-diodes_1Here's another story about abandoned man-made structures, but this one may have a happy ending.

Instead of using aboveground ponds to grow algae for biofuels, researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology have proposed growing algae underground in abandoned mines.  What are the advantages?  Underground mines are cheap, maintain constant temperature, solve the aboveground evaporation and contamination problems, and the site preparation has already been done by the mining companies.

But don't algae need sunlight to grow?  Not necessarily, says mining engineering professor David Summers.

It happens that algae work best when they use only the blue and red parts of the light spectrum, which can be provided by LED lights, and they need periods of darkness in which to process the photons.

An added benefit:  Mine owners like the idea because it eliminates the need for them to clean up the sites, as algae are particularly good at sequestering metals.

Win + win + win?  I guess we'll find out.

More information at Scientific American.

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puhlease! the energy needed to fire up the LEDs will far outstrip any energy from biofuels several energy conversions down the line. Just run the vehicle on the electricity used to light the LEDs. Everyone who's taken 9th grade science should remember the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. 1st law = energy cannot be "created." it must be derived. 2nd law = energy conversion necessitates energy loss (entropy happens).
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