LOGAN — Researchers at Utah State University think they may have found a new and healthy form of cooking oil extracted from a plant you might not expect.
When it comes to cooking oils, they have to have the right lipid chain. If they don't, they could either taste bad or leave a weird feeling in your mouth.
"We have found a type of algae that makes just the right kinds of oils," said Bruce Bugbee with the Utah State University College of Agriculture.
That's right, algae. Technically, it's called microalgae, and it looks similar to split pea soup. Bugbee said this algae-based oil has no trans fat and is healthy like palm oil but easier on the environment to make.
"(Palm oil) is hard on the environment. It comes from the tropics. It's hard on the rainforest. It's an imported oil. It's certainly not ‘eat local.' We have to ship it a long ways," Bugbee said.
We have to show that we can grow it reproducibly and economically on a big scale. That's not such an easy thing to do, but, we think we can do it.
Plus, these algae can grow where other vegetation can't.
"We can take salt water and use it to grow this algae. That water is worthless for agriculture," Bugbee explained.
So, it can be grown here in Utah, or on a beach. But don't expect to rush out to the store and buy it any time soon. Bugbee said a lot of work is left to do before it can be made into a commercially-viable product.
"We have to show that we can grow it reproducibly and economically on a big scale. That's not such an easy thing to do, but we think we can do it," Bugbee said.
He said they weren't even looking to create food oil when they started out. They were originally looking to make biodiesel. They succeeded, but the biodiesel they made would be far too expensive.