Showcasing: General Atomics
General Atomics (GA) is a San Diego-based innovation ﬁrm with a 50-year history of successful solutions for environmental, energy, and military challenges. GA has committed significant resources to developing near-term, economical solutions for achieving our country's renewable energy goals. GA's work is primarily in the areas of algae biodiesel and biodiesel plastic recycle waste-to-energy processes.
GA is developing improved processes for growing and extracting oil from algae. This oil will be used as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel, which can substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuel. This would help reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and would reduce atmospheric pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.
Brine algae were chosen for this purpose because they can grow in inhospitable conditions in vast, arid areas of the US that can't be used for other crops. They can tolerate the high temperatures, weather conditions, and high-salinity water of the desert southwest.
It is expected that an acre of algae will provide 150 times the oil yield that an acre of soybeans does. Researchers estimate that ~10 million acres of algae would supply all the transportation fuel needs for the US.
Biodiesel Plastic Recycle
Biodiesel plastic recycle is a new waste-to-energy process that uses biodiesel to dissolve battlefield plastic waste to create a solution that can be burned in a diesel engine. Widespread use of biodiesel is limited by its higher cost relative to petroleum-based fuel. Supplementing the fuel value with "free" plastic waste makes an economical fuel.
The idea is to use waste plas¬tics generated at the front lines, typically consisting of containers used for supplies consumed by soldiers. The technology is ideal for forward bases because it is simple, cost-effective, and recovers the full energy content of the plastic packaging waste to reduce the base fuel requirement. Successful implementation in the DOD is expected to save millions of dollars per month in fuel and waste disposal costs.