December 11, 2008 [LINK / comment]

A path to energy independence?

A company called Valcent Products is testing a new greenhouse system that uses algae to generate large quantities of lipids that can then be processed into combustible oils. According to CEO Glen Kertz [watch this video], "What we have is a closed-loop photo-bio reactor." (???) If his biofuels project lives up to his claims, it may go a long way toward U.S. achieving energy independence. Or, it could turn out to be another pipe dream like cold fusion. But at least it's worth a try -- hopefully with entrepreneurial capital rather than government subsidies. One drawback: the system requires huge inputs of fresh water. Hat tip to Rich Raab; Steve Kijak has some photos of the prototype.

Another reason to pause: With gasoline prices plummeting to insanely low levels right now ($1.37 per gallon!??), the profitability of such alternative energy sources comes into question.