Accepted Paper:

Integrated Systems for Algal Biofuels Production: An Investigation of "Energy" through "Potentiated Materials"   


Duygu Kasdogan (York University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses how researchers potentiate algae as sustainable biofuels through the design and engineering of "integrated systems."

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on a particular way of algal biofuels development, that is, through integrated systems, which basically couple wastewater treatment facilities and carbon dioxide intensive industries with biofuels production processes. It juxtaposes two integrated algal biofuels projects led by scientists working in distinct geo-political locations. The first case is located in the United States and led by a NASA scientist. The second project is based in Turkey and developed by an environmental engineer. By juxtaposing these two projects, this paper explores how materials, knowledge, ideas, techniques, technologies, and affects are choreographed to potentiate algae as sustainable biofuels. It first provides a meta-scale analysis of epistemic, affective and temporal conditions that make engineering integrated algal biofuels production systems possible. It then moves to the scale of laboratory practices and focuses on the experiments that seek to optimize algal cultivation in wastewater as well as biogas production via algal biomass. The analysis of integrated systems for algal biofuels production through a multi-sited ethnography at different scales sheds light on particular effects of the-not-yet projects that are salient in renewables sector. This paper underlines the re-envisioning of "ecosystems" through integrated algal biofuels development systems. It concludes with the claim for "potentiated materials" as an object of study to explore how energy futures unfold in the present.

Panel T124
Energy Beyond Crisis: Energetic Bodies, Ecologies, and Economies