Algae the Perfect Biofuels Feedstock
Algae are the most common and fastest growing plants in this world. In addition, earth’s biomass is for the most part made up of algae. Biofuel can be produced from algae especially grown for this purpose, there is no food vs fuel competition and CO2 emissions can be reduced significantly.
The potential of micro-algae for Biofuels has been demonstrated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Aquatic Species Program. During the oil crisis of the 1970s, Congress funded the NREL within the Department of Energy to investigate alternative fuels and energy sources. Between 1978 and 1996, the Aquatic Species Program (ASP) focused on the production of biodiesel from high lipid-content algae growing in outdoor ponds and using CO2 from coal-fired power plants to increase the rate of algae growth and reduce carbon emissions.
This research demonstrated that algae biofeuls could supply enough fuel to meet all of America’s transportation needs in the form of biodiesel using an only 0.2% of the nation’s land (Department of Energy Aquatic Species Program, DOE 1996).
Currently, our team of scientists is working to develop alternative fuels from a wide variety of plant materials. Algae for Green/Bio-fuels and Algae Biofuels are our top priority. We believe that algae biofuels together with other renewable energy systems can supply all our day-by-day energy needs.
Ethanol derived from sugarcane and corn is already widely used. The Brazilian renewable energy model is a global standard. Today, the United States is the largest ethanol producer in the world.
However, unlike sugarcane and corn, algae are not a food crop and do not compete for arable soil. Growing algae do not raise the “Food vs Fuel” debate. Algae are tolerant to many adverse conditions like deserts and saline and/or brackish water. Algae can be raised using re-circulated water, waste water from sewage treatment plant, blackwash water, runoff water, and so on.
Algae can be grown a varieties of conditions and environments. Open ponds, shallow raceways, horizontal photo-bioreactors, vertical photo-bioreactors, plastic bag containers, open and closer circulations systems are some of the containers and devices used to grown algae.
Do you know that it takes 2,000 gallons of fresh water to produce one gallon of ethanol from corn; to make biofuels from soybeans one uses 50 gallons of fresh water per acre per year; 650 gallons from palm and 160 gallons from canola. However algae may produce 2,000 gallons per acre per year using municipal or any sources treated wastewater.
In addition, studies have demonstrated that algae consumes about 2-2.5 kg of CO2 for every 1kg of biofuel produced. It means that if 25-30 per cent of fossil fuels in the US were replaced with algae based biofuel, it would save an approximated four-and-half to five-billion tonnes in net CO2 emissions which is estimated the equivalent of eliminating the emissions from the whole US passenger vehicle fleet for four years.
Nevertheless, the key points to successfully growing, harvesting, extracting, processing and delivering algae biofuels are having interdisciplinary team do scientists, technicians, business and total quality driven specialists that know every aspect of the algae for biofuels industry.