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I've been reading a bit about algae fuel. It sounds like people did some work and then decided it was too difficult. This link mentions Exxon's work:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel#Commercial_Viability

And this next link shows the ex-CEO of Exxon talking about how they wanted an algae genetically modified to secrete oil, so they didn't have to kill and harvest it. He then says they encountered a low-level problem with the basic science, but doesn't elaborate.

https://youtu.be/vGv0R3zJ3cc?t=4m26s

Anyone know what that problem was?

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  • $\begingroup$ If I remember correctly, Solazyme was founded to produce algal biofuel. It turned out that was not cost-effective, so they pivoted to nutraceuticals and the like — which did not save them. Sapphire Energy tried to produce algal biofuel in the Southern Californian desert, in open tanks. They also went bankrupt. If you grow the algae in transparent plastic containers, it's expensive. If you grow the algae in open tanks, your precious algae will be competing with all sorts of microorganisms that happen to find their way into those open tanks. $\endgroup$ – Rodrigo de Azevedo Apr 4 at 14:02

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