The latest news on the biofuel front is that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) claims that algae is going to solve the Pentagon’s jet fuel problem. Darpa says it is just months away from producing a jet fuel from algae for the same cost as its fossil-fuel equivalent. While researchers have been able to turn pond scum and seaweed into fuel, they have not found a cost-effective method to do so. Predictions for operation of a larger scale refining operation range anywhere from 2011 to 2013.
The history of biofuel development has been fraught with problems as researchers have touted many sources including corn and other vegetable oils, wood based products, and even kudzu as the answer to the energy crisis. Is algae the latest in a long line of impractical solutions or is it really the answer? Only time will tell.