(DAPHNE, Ala.) - When you think algae, fuel probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But one research company is hoping to change that. Algae Systems LLC wants to lease Daphne's old waste water treatment plant for research on turning algae into fuel.
"They are looking for ways to treat waste water with an algae solution that can have applications primarily in a Third World country using sunlight and wave action and then this algae at the end of its life can be rung out to generate oil that can be used to create fuel of several types. Jet fuel being only one of them, " said Rob McElroy, Daphne's Utilities General Manager.
McElroy is talking about biofuel and waste water treatment technology that needs what Mobile Bay already has - lots of nitrogen, the same conditions that make jubilees happen.
John Perry Barlow works with Algae Systems LLC. It's the research company that will lease the old treatment facility and make it all happen. "We were looking for an area that had a problem with nitrogen build up. As you know, Mobile Bay has such a nitrogen problem that you end up having jubilees. Well, its lack of oxygen is a consequence of excessive nitrogen," said Barlow.
It's the same technology developed by NASA to recycle wastewater for long duration space flights. "And it's also going to involve the hiring of several people with salaries probably in the 40 to $50,000 range which would come local, assuming we can find local qualified people," said McElroy.
The foot print will be minimal, and according to everyone involved, the pilot process could go a long way. "This is not costing Daphne Utilities any money. This is not costing the city any money. It's just a great research project we are allowing to happen on our sight," said McElroy.