68 Looking for Energy in Algae

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The search for new fuels has led some researchers to ___________. Algae is a name for thousands of different organisms. They include single-celled plants as well as ___________ and other large plants.

Kenneth Bruland is an ocean sciences professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He says many experts also consider plant-like ___________ to be a form of algae. These bacteria make food from the sun like plants do. Algae grow ___________ and some contain a lot of oils. Most algae-to-energy researchers are growing algae in ___________ tanks. But one company, Blue Marble Energy in Seattle, Washington, uses algae already growing along ___________. Workers pump it into bags on a boat. They have to be careful not to suck up young fish or other small creatures.

Blue Marble says its work could help prevent harmful algae blooms. A bloom is when a dense area of algae forms and ___________. Some blooms can harm people, animals or the environment.

Warmer water can cause blooms, and some scientists think global warming is adding to an increase in large ones. Nutrients from ___________ and agricultural fertilizers also help algae grow.

Blue Marble is a start-up company with private investors. It also has a contract with Washington state to collect the algae called ulva, or sea ___________, in parts of Seattle’s Puget Sound waterway. In Puget Sound, big blooms of sea lettuce often break down in Dumas Bay. This process of ___________ uses up oxygen and kills marine life. And when the sea lettuce washes up on the beach, it smells terrible.

Blue Marble President Kelly Ogilvie says his company has collected almost four thousand kilos of algae in two ___________. The next step is to use bacteria to break down the algae into natural gas and different chemicals. Most companies doing algae-to-energy research are creating liquid ___________ for cars or airplanes.

But some people have concerns about harvesting ___________ algae. University of Washington researcher Kevin Britton-Simmons says removing the algae does not solve the problem. He says keeping fertilizer and other pollutants out of the water would ___________ a lot of unnatural blooms.

He also says it is difficult to tell the difference between natural algae blooms and those caused by human activity. He says removing natural blooms would remove valuable food for ___________ life.

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