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TEDxBG 2010: Asen Nenov

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Hello. I will talk to you about bio-fuels. Before you fall asleep, on this subject. I want to say that things are not as they are advertised and pleaded in the media. Bio-fuels, as you see then at the present moment... This field... It is not the most sustainable thing that could happen to us. This technology is not as green as we think. Imagine this field burning in your engine in the form of some fuel � say, bio-diesel. However, what happens right behind the gas station? This is exactly what happens. A field, which could be used for food, is not used for prodiction of... For production of food but it is used for technical crops. Technical crops... In their production it is not obligatory to respect such requirements which would keep them non-poisonous. That is why destruction of this soil results exactly from its being flooded with all kinds of harmful and poisonous substances. This is one of the problems with these bio-fuels. Namely � are they green, it�s not very clear. And their yield is small � later you will find out what I mean by small yield. Competition with foods was something that was established, without anyone knowing that it would happen. As you may know, several years ago the prices of some raw food materials were suddenly raised. It happened with the production of bio-fuels. Of course, there is an alternative. And it is what I described - first generation bio-fuels. Second generation bio-fuels are the ones based on waste, meaning some kind of recycling. Although, when waste is already generated � recycling it is a bit of... belated action, so to say. third generation fuels are, so to say, the most modern at the moment. 00:02:45,138 --> 00:02:50,198 They are mainly based on micro-algae. Not the seaweed at the beach but other algae. Fuels up to 4th generation presently are at initial phase of research activity. Rather for them... We could look at them more like science fiction in middle term. But at Greon we decided that we should do an analysis and we actually unified micro bio-fuels... namely, we defined the term micro bio-fuels by unification of 3rd and 4th generations. 3rd and 4th generations of micro bio0fuels are the ones based on micro-organisms. It is specific for micro-organisms to breed extremely fast, produce big yield and, of course, the ones that we use - and would use - for bio-fuels, are relatively harmless. The yield, which depends of the scale that you see at the moment is relatively high. What lies in the beginning of the graph is corn - the most common crop at the moment used for ethanol, except for the corn. You see its yield compared to the last column, algae. No need to speak much, all is plain to see, and by the way this picture reflects the pessimistic outlook on the yield of algae. Not the optimistic one � I don�t want to mislead you. Let us talk a bit about scale. When a tree � a grown tree, 30 years old, takes away from the atmosphere carbon dioxide as much as 1 kg algae biomass for about 3 weeks. Meaning that bio-fuels, produced of, for example, poplar, how green are they actually, compared to micro-algae, which are so much more effective. It turns out that actually we have no sustainability, producing first generation bio-fuels and so the only solution, for which a technologically positioned... 67 00:05:29,057 --> 00:05:31,316 is third and fourth generation. Meaning these bio-fuels, based on micro-organisms. What we did was, except for growing micro-algae in our laboratory and analyze the market niche - is there such a niche, how big is it, and generally those micro bio-fuels... Does their existence make any economic sense, or doesn�t it? Turns out, presently the main reason for their non-existence at the market is because the barrier to enter this market is very high. The barrier is not financial, the barrier is called knowledge. Very specific knowledge is needed in order to know 77 00:06:30,252 --> 00:06:33,011 and work with micro-organisms, of course. But when speaking of micro-organisms and micro bio-fuels, we should mention also their "recycling" effect � meaning that they unite first generation micro bio-fuels by producing energy, and second generation, which means that they recycle some part of something. What do they recycle? They can recycle nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and our best friend � carbon dioxide. Right. At the levels we already mentioned. Actually knowledge turns out to be this main barrier, which needs to be jumped over. In fact what we did in Greon is to unite knowledge from many places and create a knowledgebase, which would contain and make sense of all this data and turn them into information so that we can extract knowledge from them. In this way we will strive to lower the barrier for invasion of companies and interested persons at the micro bio-fuels market. Of course, every technology has its pros and cons. It is not very clear... When a technology is still in development and it wants to establish itself, wouldn�t some of them be concealed or later turn out to be a major problem. In fact, with bio-fuels... what are the big pros? The big pros is that those microorganisms have been at the Earth long before us. They exist, they breed, even without us they will continue to breed. So, in this sense � if we take algae from a puddle and breed them for bio-fuels, what we use is sun, water and those seaweeds. And we recycle our waste � water, actually � meaning that we have zero waste of this process which produces energy. This is basic for the technology. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 54 seconds
Country: Bulgaria
Language: Bulgarian
Genre: None
Views: 279
Posted by: tedxbg on Apr 19, 2010

Asen Nenov

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