Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kona island, the place to grow the green fuel

The remote Hawaiian island of Kona will be the host for an innovative new fuel-making plant: Royal Dutch Shell plans to open a facility that makes biodiesel from algae.

The project, under the auspices of a new Shell company, Cellana, will grow algae in ponds and convert the extracted vegetable oil to biodiesel. If small production is successful, according to the Independent Shell will build larger plants to test the commercial viability of the fuel.

Algae is an example of an alternative fuel that the U.S. government has disinvested in. In the 1970s, research explored its potential as an fuel source, but it abandoned the research as oil prices dropped. The Democratic U.S. presidential candidates, and some of the Republicans, have advocated a return to the old days of intense research and development.

With oil at record-high prices, and fears of peak oil and global warming ever present, alternatives can't come soon enough.

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