Algae- an alternative to fossil fuels?

Algae has emerged as an unlikely champion in renewable energy. As the world tries to lessen its addiction to conventional fossil fuels, biofuels are increasingly becoming more and more popular […]

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By Tom Gibson

Algae has emerged as an unlikely champion in renewable energy.

As the world tries to lessen its addiction to conventional fossil fuels, biofuels are increasingly becoming more and more popular in producing clean and sustainable fuel.

One of those is algae, an industry the Carbon Trust says could be worth £15bn by 2030. The major advantage of algae over other biofuel feedstocks, in particular feedstocks that provide oil for jet fuel and diesel, such as palm, is that it is more sustainable from both an environmental and socio-economic perspective.

Analysis from the Carbon Trust suggests that carbon savings of between 70% to 80% versus fossil-fuel diesel could be possible. The cultivation of algae biofuels does not require fresh water or farmland, meaning production has the potential to significantly reduce pressure on agricultural land and forests.

Riggs Eckelberry, President and CEO of OriginOil, told ELN: “Algae is a massive absorber of CO2. Two tonnes of CO2 becomes one tonne of algae and one tonne of oxygen. That means we can feed off the fossil fuel industry. Algae has now been shown to be by far the most efficient way to absorb CO2 from industrial emissions and it makes a fuel that will ultimately one day replace those guys.”

It is expected industrial algae cultivation will absorb CO2 from the atmosphere or directly from CO2 sources such as power plants, factories and refineries. Burning freshly produced algae oil releases only what it absorbed in the first place, resulting in a balanced “carbon neutral” effect, making it environmentally-friendly.