Whale oil, renewable energy source?

now i’m not saying kill whales for oil. i was just wondering if we could genetically engineer bacteria to produce oil, similar to the way we produce insulin. i focused on whale oil simply because we’ve used it before. granted, i’m not sure a gasoline substitute might be fashioned from such oil, but certainetly we could burn it for heating. the scale of such a production would have to be huge.

Just engineer the bacteria to feed on algae and turn them out into a lake. You’d be swimming in oil!

i’m pretty sure we’d want to keep oil out of our waterways. remember the exxon oil spill? combined with the fact that streams and rivers could carry the bacteria to the ocean and create a environment disaster of global proportions.

Actually, that’s pretty interesting.

As I recall, whale oil burns just fine…they used it in lamps and whatnot. Any reason why it wouldn’t push a car after some refining?

Not to hijack, but other than the seriously pro-Bambi environmental opposition, is there any reason why whale farms wouldn’t provide a renewable form of combustible fuel?

The US consumed 467,798.4 million litres of gas in 2001. With a density of .73kg/l that’s a total mass of 341,492.8 million kg.

Now lets be generous and say you can convert 100% of your whale into gas. The average mass of a minke whale is 10 tonnes (10,000 kg). You would need to harvest an average of 34 million minke whales a year.

I suggest you get cracking on the “When a mummy whale and daddy whale love each other very much" videos.

yeah that’s why i ruled out whale farms. Greenpeace would have a field day.
but to point out, a bull sperm whale can weigh 45-75 tons and whalers used to harvest 25-45 barrels of oil per whale, with some legends of 100 barrels. what where you guys thinking, whale corals with syphons attached to their heads? i think bacteria are much more eco-friendly

Well that explains why the title and the OP make no sense.

What exactly make bacteria more acceptable to you? With 50 “refineries” across the US each would have to produce 18 million kg of gas per day as of 2001. At a 2% growth rate in 30 years you’d need to produce 36 million kg a day.

Lets’ say that each bacterium is able to excrete 10% of its mass as gas per day. That mean you need to be able to deal with 180 million kg of bacteria at each of my 50 “refineries”. I could see a percentage of annual consumption being taken over by a bio-engineered solution the infrastructure to produce the gas is impressive to say the least.

For example the per capita American consumption of paper and paper products is 310 kg while gas is 1177 kg.

What’s wrong with vegetable oil? It burns fine, too. And it’s renewable and recyclable.


The problem with vegatable oil is the same problem with all of these bio fuels. We already are living off of bio fuels. Fuels that took millions of years to build up and we’re tearing though them. In order to create a renewable version we’ll need something that is several million times more efficient than the original.

Methinks someone has taken that episode of Futurama too far to heart. :wink:

Are bacteria even capable of producing oil efficiently? Dredging up my rusty and rudimentary knowledge of chemistry, I seem to remember that oil molecules are huge compared to things like insulin. How can we figure out how much oil you could expect a bacterium to produce?

OK, whatever, i think at least i could develope the technology far enough to have a major oil company buy me out. at least i could get few mil out of the deal, eh?

P.S. bacteria are better than whale farms because we would not be removing the bacteria from there natural enviroment, we would not be restricting their habits, and we would not be physically injuring the bacteria. in fact, they would have much better lives than any other bacterium on the block. and i know the quantities are enormous, but these things have to start somewhere. with the proper funding, we could start small and build up.