Imagine having the ability to turn the scum on a nearby pond into usable bio-diesel almost instantly, saving you money you would have been spending on fuelling up your car with only the upfront cost of a tiny refinery device. This is what three designers have been working to bring to reality with their “Green Refinery.”
The floating concept device roams ponds, using solar power and a chemical additive to extract bio-diesel from algae. When the tank is full, simply remove the tank and fill the resulting fuel into your diesel car. While it does raise certain questions — what chemicals does it use, do they cost less than diesel itself and how much of those end up in the output water — the design is certainly focussed on combatting the energy crisis and lowering dependence on fossil fuels. When not in use, the floating solar ring folds into the arms, which in turn fold down for easy transportation and storage.
Algae is the perfect fuel, write designers Yi Liu, Jiang Yu-ning and Luo Jing, as it grows quickly in unhealthy or eutrophicated wetland environments. By skimming the algae blooms from the surface, the device effectively kills two birds with one stone by cleaning the waters and providing a cleaner alternative to feed our scummy oil addiction.
It’s a good idea for clean-ups and certain other applications, but if adopted into the mainstream, I can’t help but wonder how much fuel we’ll really be saving by building and transporting one of these to everyone with a nearby lake.