Algae Fuel

Algae fuel or Algal biofuel is an alternative to fossil fuel that uses algae as its source of natural deposits.[1] Several companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce capital and operating costs and make algae fuel production commercially viable.[2] Harvested algae, like fossil fuel, release CO2 when burnt but unlike fossil fuel the CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere by the growing algae.

High oil prices, competing demands between foods and other biofuel sources, and the world food crisis, have ignited interest in algaculture (farming algae) for making vegetable oilbiodieselbioethanolbiogasolinebiomethanolbiobutanol and other biofuels, using land that is not suitable for agriculture. Among algal fuels’ attractive characteristics: they can be grown with minimal impact on fresh water resources,[3][4] can be produced using ocean and wastewater, and are biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment if spilled.[5][6][7] Algae cost more per unit mass (as of 2010, food grade algae costs ~$5000/tonne), due to high capital and operating costs,[8] yet are claimed to yield between 10 and 100 times more fuel per unit area than other second-generation biofuel crops.[9] The United States Department of Energy estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, it would require 15,000 square miles (39,000 km2) which is only 0.42% of the U.S. map,[10] or about half of the land area of Maine. This is less than 17 the area of corn harvested in the United States in 2000.[11] However, these claims remain unrealized, commercially. According to the head of the Algal Biomass Organization algae fuel can reach price parity with oil in 2018 if granted production tax credits.[12]



  1. ^ Scott SA, Davey MP, Dennis JS, Horst I, Howe CJ, Lea-Smith DJ, Smith AG. 2010. Biodiesel from algae: challenges and prospects. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 21(3):277-86
  2. ^ “{PhD thesis on algae production for bioenergy}” (PDF).Murdoch University, Western Australia. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
  3. ^ Yang, Jia; Ming Xu, Xuezhi Zhang, Qiang Hu, Milton Sommerfeld, YongShen Chen (2010). [ “Life-cycle analysis on biodiesel production from microalgae: Water footprint and nutrients balance”]. Bioresources Technology 10: 1016.
  4. ^ Cornell, Clayton B. (29 March 2008). “First Algae Biodiesel Plant Goes Online: 1 April 2008”. Gas 2.0. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
  5. ^ “‘Green Dream’ Backed by MPs”Eastern Daily Press. January 2003. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
  6. ^ Friends of biodegradable ethanol[dead link]
  7. ^ “Low Cost Algae Production System Introduced”. Energy-Arizona. 28 August 2007. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
  8. ^ “Micro-algae”.
  9. ^ Greenwell et al (2010) Placing microalgae on the biofuels priority list: a review of the technological challenges J. R. Soc. Interface 6 May 2010 vol. 7 no. 46 703–726
  10. ^ Hartman, Eviana (6 January 2008). “A Promising Oil Alternative: Algae Energy”The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
  11. ^ Dyer, Gwynne (17 June 2008). “A replacement for oil”.The Chatham Daily News. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  12. ^ Feldman, Stacy (22 November 2010). Reuters. Fuel Inches Toward Price Parity with Oil. Retrieved 14 February 2011. “”We’re hoping to be to be at parity with fossil fuel-based petroleum in the year 2017 or 2018, with the idea that we will be at several billions of gallons,” Rosenthal told SolveClimate News in a phone interview.”]Image

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