The new process is a significant improvement over a previous process, which takes about half an hour to convert just 50% of the algae. Both methods are ways to speed up the natural process of decomposition, which can take millions of years.
In addition to the time savings, Savage is trying to streamline the process of creating algae biofuel by starting with wet algae. Traditionally, Algae biofuel is typically produced as dry algae before extracting biocrude, which costs around $20 per gallon.
The process is both time-consuming and expensive. Savage and Faeth said that they are unable to estimate any cost savings for their method, but any simplification of the process could potentially bring prices down.
Just as pressure is bad for human, it can be harmful to algae as well. "For example, the biocrude might decompose into substances that dissolve in water, and the fast heating rates might discourage that reaction," Faeth said.