Engineering, science, technology, art

From molecules to gallons: Scaling up fuels created by artificial photosynthesis: Sabin Russell @ :phys.org
Ok so I’m a geek but I see this a neat and a form of artistry.

Self similar patterns, derived from nature’s models, provide a route to scale from meters to sub micron with features of self assembly and ‘natural’ scaling. Allowing fluids to flow in and out of a microscopic reaction site at macro-scales.

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Algae to the rescue

Green tea: Joule Energy's SolarConverter turns carbon dioxide and sunlight into ethanol fuel at a pilot plant in Leander, Texas.

 Technology Review| Photosynthesis Fuel Company Gets a Large Investment:  Joule Unlimited will build a production plant for turning sunlight and CO2 into liquid fuels.

The company is combining many technologies to move to direct creation of biofuel precursor liquids.  The algae is similar to that others are experimenting with but excrete the molecules into the water instead of retaining inside the cells.  This way the harvesting ‘only’ entails fractionating the liquid from the flow.  The bioreactors are essentially double panel windows with the algae filled liquid flowing inside.  The water gets CO2 from a power plant which scrubs it out of the plant effluents and one guesses that in cooler climates the water could be warmed in the cooling cycle of the same power plant so the system could operate year round.

The company calculates that their system can produce a great deal more, more easily refined biofuel precursor liquids than the alternates. Which mostly involve growing various kinds of plants and then converting them to biofuels in either chemical or bio reactors.