If you read the fine print of the tax bill Congress passed this week, it includes a shout-out to algae, cyanobacteria and duckweed. For the first time, algae biofuels are eligible for a dollar a gallon tax credit.
Algae takes in sunlight and carbon dioxide and produces lipids, or oils. Those oils can be turned into biodiesel and even jet fuel. Proponents say algae produces a whole lot more oil per acre than a crop like corn or canola, and investors like Bill Gate have funded research into it.
Margaret McCormick is the CEO of Matrix Genetics, an algae biotech firm in Seattle. She says the tax credit makes algae competitive with other biofuel crops.
“So this basically levels the playing field. It allows us to compete on our technology and our cost.”
A final note. Crude oil itself was once algae that morphed after billions of years under heat and pressure.
Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting