Archive for Algae

Commercial-Scale Production of Algae Biodiesel: Using Existing Resources to Spawn a New Era in Renewable Energy

By Drew Casey

Recently, we have experienced increasing uncertainty about the threat of climate changes due to increased carbon emissions as well as volatility of global oil prices. Fossil fuels have been such a major part of modern society, but the recent problems that we have experienced are attributed to an over reliance of these finite resources. Biodiesel production from algae has recently received considerable attention in the race to bring sustainable fuels to market, and its future looks promising. In order to facilitate the production of algae biodiesel on a commercial scale, we need to use our ingenuity and take advantage of existing resources such as emissions from coal-burning power plants, agricultural runoff, wastewater effluent, and even leftover material from the algae biodiesel production facilities.

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Bleak future for mass production of algae biodiesel

By Caroline de Monasterio

Large-scale production of algae biodiesel is not a viable solution in the displacement of petroleum-based fuels. The technology to efficiently produce biodiesel from microalgae is not competitive with more advanced and emerging renewable technologies. At present production efficiencies, algae biodiesel has an approximate cost of thirty-three dollars per gallon (6). According to an NREL report (5), wind-generated electricity costs between six and nine cents per kilowatt-hour, and photo-voltaics have an estimated range of eighteen to twenty-three cents. The high costs of algae biodiesel production are due in part to the energy required to circulate gases, fluids and other materials in the growth environment.

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Microalgae: from Biodiesel to Bioethanol and Beyond

By Jesse Moore

Microalgae have a large capacity for producing lipids for biodiesel and carbohydrates for bioethanol. The potential for microalgae as biofuel feedstocks is high because of their high rate of productivity, the potentially high percentage of biomass composed of lipids or carbohydrates, and because they lack lignin. The absence of lignin production in most algae is a benefit because processing lignin is currently a major impediment for bioethanol production. Microalgae, in addition to being utilized for biofuel production, make other compounds that can be use make high value products, such as animal feeds and dietary supplements. Microalgae are of course not without their potential problems.

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Algae and their many uses: The perfect crop, but for what purposes?

By Mike Buday

Earth’s first forms of life and first forms of food for subsequent species now hold the potential to become the planet’s next major source of energy and a vital part of the solutions to climate change and dependence on fossil fuels. Cyanobacteria have caused more global environmental change than humans could ever cause (1) and are now poised to address many of society’s greatest challenges (2). But given the fuel versus food problems associated with other biofuels, the same issue and other issues relating to the scarcity of resources and impacts on the environment must be considered when it comes to algae.

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Third Generation Biofuels

By Sam Lines

The biofuels industry is undergoing a fairly large transformation after the debacle of corn-ethanol subsidies in the U.S., and there is a new class of feedstocks at the forefront of this movement. Algae is one of the most promising of these second- and third-generation feedstocks, and as such has been attracting many new companies and significant amounts of new investment. An initial look at the process and energy metrics of growing algae and converting it to biofuels sheds some light on the promise that this new feedstock holds. There are also other strategic advantages that algae hold over traditional terrestrial row crops. This paper will take a look at the current state of, and trends in, the industry.

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