Things are looking up for lowly sea algae.
Fuels giant Royal Dutch Shell and HR Biopetroleum on Wednesday announced the creation of a joint venture called Cellana to make biodiesel from algae in Hawaii.
The plans call for growing algae in ponds of seawater using strains of algae that are native to Hawaii. It will be placed near other industrial sites that produce algae for the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries.
Cellana said that algae can produce 15 times more oil per hectare than rape, palm soya, or jatropha plants.
Algae growth also has been proposed as a way to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The Cellana demonstration facility will use bottled carbon dioxide to explore the technique of capture carbon in plants as they metabolize. Its experiments will include participation from different universities.
At the United Nations conference on climate change in Bali, Indonesia, a group of scientists on Monday proposed stepping up research on capturing carbon dioxide from sea algae. Other companies have proposed stimulating large-scale algae blooms to consume and capture carbon dioxide.