Algae – The Biofuel Source of the Future

Due to the growing concern of a lot of people when it comes to preserving the environment, a lot of attention has been drawn towards the use of alternative fuel sources aside from fossil fuels, one of which is algae. Many researches have been conducted with regards to algae’s potential as one viable biofuel source and these researches have proven to be on the right track. In fact, in a June 2010 report provided by the United States Department of Energy, $24 million was invested for three research groups which would look further into the commercialization of biofuels, which are algae-based. This is included in the strategy of the Administration in cutting down greenhouse gas emissions and help in moving the nation towards energy independence.

What makes algae a viable source of fuel?

The need for finding good biofuel sources has prompted research into algae-based fuel. One problem that faced researchers of biofuel is space requirement. They need to find a source which can produce large quantities of oil without the need to utilize a lot of space, and by only making use of the least resources. Various biofuel sources have been tried in the past such as soybeans for biodiesel and corn for ethanol but it was found that there was still a need to find a much better source, and this is where algae comes in.

Algae is very versatile when it comes to its habitat. It can make use of different types of water sources. It can use wastewater and could even thrive on brackish water. It can grow using plots and can even grow abundantly on bare land.

Yes, algae would still be producing some carbon dioxide (C02) when it is burned, however, it has the capacity to sequester C02 during its growth, a property that fossil fuel sources couldn’t do. This is also why you can find a lot of manufacturers of algae biodiesel building plants close to manufacturing plants that produce large quantities of carbon dioxide. This way, the algae get to absorb C02 and help in reducing pollution.

You can find more than 100,000 species of algae. They are the least care-intensive types of plant organisms since all they need are sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. It was also found out that among the various types of algae available, those that grow in ponds are the most ideal to be used for biodiesel production.

And, makers of biodiesel claim that depending on the type of algae that is used, the method of oil extraction and the manner by which it is grown, they would be able to produce approximately 100,000 gallons of algae oil for every acre in a year. With this number, algae may outperform other biodiesel products like corn or palm.