Pressure-cooking turns algae into biofuel

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 23 (UPI) -- Treating algae with heat and pressure quickly produces a crude oil that could be used in engines, scientists at the University of Michigan said.

In their experiments, the scientists heated algae and water to 300 degrees for 30 minutes in a device similar to a pressure cooker.


"We're trying to do what nature does when it creates oil, but we don't want to wait millions of years," said Phillip Savage, a professor of chemical engineering.

Algae breaks down more easily than other potential biofuel source plants because they have no leaves, stems or roots and, therefore, no tough cell walls, Savage said in a release Thursday.

Future experiments are to involve heating and pressurizing waste products tainted with E. coli to see what crude oils could be produced, he said.

The project is supported by a $2 million National Science Foundation grant funded under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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