Algae at $10,000 a ton

Food is as big a problem for China as oil. Rising temperatures and temperature fluctuations could cause swings of 30 to 50 percent in harvests.

Nutraceutical oil sells for far more than diesel. Kyle McCue of Ternion Bio Industries told us recently that his company has signed deals with pharmaceutical companies to deliver algae at close to $10,000 a ton. Going straight to food also lets producers skirt some technical issues, like how to turn the lipid oil into hydrocarbons and how to keep single strains pure.

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