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Novel Algae Fuel-Farming Method Gets Big Backing 176

Al writes "Dow Chemical has given its backing to a Florida startup called Algenol Biofuels that hopes to produce commercial quantities of ethanol directly from algae without the need for fresh water or agricultural lands. Dozens of companies are trying to produce biofuels from algae, mostly by growing and harvesting the microorganisms to extract their oil. Algenol has chosen instead to genetically enhance certain strains of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, to convert as much carbon dioxide as possible into ethanol using a process that doesn't require harvesting to collect the fuel. Algenol's bioreactors are troughs covered by a dome of semitransparent film and filled with salt water that has been pumped in straight from the ocean. The photosynthetic algae growing inside are exposed to sunlight and fed a stream of carbon dioxide from Dow's chemical production units. The goal is to produce 100,000 gallons of ethanol annually."

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.