Due to the current “oil crisis” situation more research has been focused on the use of renewable fuels. Researchers have found algae to be a new potential biofuel in their search for fossil fuel replacements. Algae may be the solution we’ve been looking for. This plant-like organism which has throughout time played a major role in our ecosystem can be processed into biocrude and refined to gasoline form. The government is placing focused attention on discovering more alternative sources of biofuels. Their main objective is to replace over hundreds of gallons of gasoline or more by the year 2010.
More than three-quarters of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced algae and cyanobacteria. Algae which comes in the form of golden, green, brown, red, and flagellates can be found as a single floating organism or large seaweed. It has a reputation of preventing pollution. Algae has been used in wastewater treatment centers, to protect lakes from fertilizer chemicals, as an alternative to toxic dyes, as nutritional supplements, as a superfood, and even in some common cosmetics.
What Makes Algae A Great Fuel Alternative?
There are several reasons algae is an excellent fuel alternative. Algae has the ability to produce oil naturally. Unlike other sources of biofuels algae does not need to follow the guidelines for a food crop so it can be produced in larger amounts for less. There is no fertilizer or watering requirements either so the process of growing algae is quite simplistic once the strain of algae to reproduce has been perfected. It is believed so far, through experimentation that algae as biodiesel can produce enough automotive fuel to replace the planet’s gasoline usage. Algae can be manufactured at operating oil refineries. This procedure is practiced at companies like LiveFuels and Solix Biofuels. Certain strains of algae that are high in carbohydrates and lacking in oil can be turned into ethanol and leftovers used as animal feed. Nothing has to go wasted when using algae. It can be grown in ponds or in standard laboratories in clear tubes.
Believe it or not algae as an alternative fuel is not a new concept. It was first introduced years ago in the 90’s. Scientists had discovered algae’s potential as a diesel fuel replacement but due to the low gas prices at the time the idea seemed unnecessary and the program called NREL was eliminated. Fortunately, the oil crisis has brought attention back on algae. According to scientist Eric Jarvis the algae research program NREL which was terminated in 1996 will restart their research this year in hope of being able to use algae as the new fuel.