July 8, 2013 - Professor Juergen Polle is packing up his laboratory on a sweltering morning in New York City, but the beakers and test tubes aren't going on summer break. The professor of biology at Brooklyn College has run out of funds for his research, and is shutting down his lab until a new round of funding can be found. Polle joins some of the top minds in the nation working to find an alternative for oil -- and he's placing his bet on algae.
"We cannot fly planes with ethanol. We need oil. And algae can make oil as a drop-in replacement for fossil fuel," Polle told CBSNews.com on a recent tour of his lab.
The race to find a sustainable alternative to oil has mainly focused on other types of biofuels, like corn-derived ethanol or vegetable oil, but these options compete with food crops. What makes algae ideal is that it can be grown in non-arable land. And while it burns carbon dioxide (CO2) like fossil fuels, it requires CO2 to photosynthesize, making it carbon neutral. Proponents find algae appealing because it can be grown in salt water. read more>>>