Algae: The World's New Alternative Energy Source?

07/11/2010 11:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Forget the Toyota Prius; a team of students and professors from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia are attempting to turn algae from Lake Matoaka into biodiesel for cars.

An article in the Daily Press reports the group's methodology as such:

A rectangle-shaped floating dock with its midsection removed, the flume acts as a channel that will trap nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients that form oxygen-deprived dead zones in the lake and Chesapeake Bay watershed.

According to the head of the project, Karl Kuschner, the machine will manufacture "six to eight gallons of dry algae every two weeks."

While the project is too small to have a significant effect on America's energy problem, the goal for these scientists is to discover a way in which algae can be turned into biodiesel in the least costly way. Additionally, there are happy byproducts of the project: a 20 percent reduction of the lake's toxic material is possible.

William and Mary isn't the only institution interested in algae as an alternative source of energy. Other universities, like Old Dominion and Virgina Commonwealth, and large corporations, like Exxon Mobile, are investing in similar missions.

What do you think? Is algae the future? Weigh in below.