Student Makes Fuel From Algae
by Jennifer Marino Walters (Scholastic News) A Minnesota teen has discovered a way to power trucks and cars with algae
Sixteen-year-old Josh Wolf spends up to 40 hours each week in a portable garage behind his family’s home in Elk River, Minnesota. But he’s not working on cars. He’s making his own diesel fuel—the type of fuel used to power trucks, trains, buses, boats, farm and construction vehicles, and even some automobiles—from algae.
Inside the garage, Josh grows algae in a large trash container filled with water. Using parts he took from an old toy rocket launcher, he shocks the algae with low levels of electricity. This causes oil inside the algae to shoot out and float to the surface of the water. About 40 hours later, Josh skims the oil from the water and adds household chemicals to it to turn it into diesel fuel. He produces about one liter of diesel each day, which he sometimes uses to fuel his friends’ pickup trucks.
“Getting to see my spark of an idea be [turned] into great work has been one of the most [thrilling] experiences . . . in my life,” Josh told Scholastic News.
…Josh was named one of seven finalists in the 2011 International Algae Competition, the only high school student of the group. He gives presentations about his work at events. And he has a lawyer who is working on getting a patent for his oil production process, which would mean only he would have the right to use or sell it. READ MORE