|A species of microalgae:|
Now, the method is far from perfect. The oil produced can't just be pumped into an automobile; it has to be refined and processed significantly first. It looks more like tar than gasoline when it comes out of the pressure-cooker. And it is still gasoline; there are lots of pollutants released by burning any oil, whether it came out of the ground or is recently squished algae. But there are a lot of advantages to the system.
|An Algae Farm|
This particular method is also a breakthrough among its competitors. It is a much more efficient method. Conventionally, to create an algal biofuel, one has to take a very oily algae, dry it out, and then extract the oil. It's a time-consuming, low-yield process, which makes it expensive and not likely to compete with drilling. The pressure-cooker method, however, is faster, has a higher yield, and produces much less waste. In fact, the researchers hope that, eventually, this technique can be used in waste-free refineries. It's a promising step. While there are many advantages to heading away from oil altogether, the technology just isn't in place yet. So, waste-free biofuel refineries would be a great intermediate step until hydrogen or electric technology is ready to take the place of oil.
Source: Science Daily- Pressure-cooking algae into a better biofuel
Crude oil data from the EIA.