Intrigued by algae

I’m intrigued at the possibility of algae farming for oil.

Forget higher order hydrocarbons (note to self: revise organic chemistry), just in terms of producing a straight vegetable oil, with no spectacular properties. Is there a plant/microbe that could conceivably be farmed, in a small scale facility, as to produce a cost effective fuel?

Could this have an application as a developing world technology (same mode as the rugged laptop with a manual battery charger)?

What are the numbers?

My connotea reading list is at http://www.connotea.org/user/ac12

Update
It appears that the maximum possible energy yield possible using photosynthesis can’ possibly produce anywhere near enough fuel to be viable on a small scale. This is just my impression from reading a few discussions, I’ll get to the physics myself at some point.

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