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Oil from Algae

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A team of Hebrew University scientists believes that Israel may be able to synthesize a high grade of oil from a certain type of algae that thrives in sunlight and meet its oil requirements through this process by 1980 if the project is undertaken immediately. An announcement by the University said the team, headed by Prof. Ben Zion Ginzburg, proposed the mass construction of “solar ponds” covering 1,000 kilometers of unbearable desert areas that enjoy virtually year-round sunshine.

According to the announcement, Ginzberg and his associates have already produced a high grade of oil from the algae that grows abundantly in salt water under strong sunlight. The oil is of such quality that it requires little further processing, the announcement said.

The Hebrew University scientists based their experiments on a 40 year-old discovery that the hyper-saline waters of the Dead Sea contained “salt-hungry” microorganisms, both bacteria and algae. The latter can yield oil in commercial quantities. The experiments were partially funded by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Ginzberg said that while the construction of the “solar ponds” was expensive in the initial stages, the investment was cheap compared to the cost of drilling for oil that may or may not exist. Furthermore, the ponds would exploit desert areas unfit for food production and would be non-pollutant. He said that if the system was developed successfully vast stretches of the world’s desert areas could be made to yield oil from solar energy.

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