A promising biofuel option for the future is oil from algae. Shell recently announced that it is partnering with HR Biopetroluem to create a facility on a Hawaiian island that will grow microalgae to be used as biofuel. Algae fuel is classified as a third-generation biofuel. Additionally, due to the high-density yield of algae biofuels, one acre of land is able to produce 100-420 Mb of biodiesel.
Is It Worth It?
Pros of Algae Fuels
- Biodiesel from algae is a highly carbon negative process, meaning more carbon is absorbed than emitted in producing and burning the biofuel.
- Large amounts of algae biofuels can be produced on small amounts of land because the algae can be grown vertically.
- Because it can be grown vertically, algae has the potential for huge oil production levels.
- Growing alge requires low amounts of fertilzer and pesticides, and less water than most other biofuels.
Cons of Algae Fuels
The technology isn't ready yet, and requires large amounts of energy.
Companies Developing Algae Fuel Technologies
- Blue Marble Energy is a Seattle based company pioneering algae growth and bio-chemical recovery technology to convert human waste streams into inputs for energy and industry. Basically, they find algae-infested polluted water systems, cleans up the environment, and turns the algae into biofuel. Besides, they've published numerous articles, essays and research papers about the waste disposal. BME focuses on encouraging wild algae growth in nutrient rich wastewater as well as converting environmental nuisance algae into reusable inputs. This lowers the costs of waste treatment, as well as the environmental costs of algae decay - quite contrary to conventional algae growth strategies being funded today.
- Inventure Chemical pioneers the processes that allow biofuel developers to ultimately make the dream of affordable biofuels a reality by the application of cost effective conversion and processing methods working with a variety of feedstocks - from algae produced from CO2 emissions to exotic and not so exotic oil seeds and biomass. They are working on an algae-to-jet product.
- Solena develops, builds, owns and operates renewable bio-energy plants worldwide. Using state of the art patented plasma technology and algae systems, Solena’s plants produce clean, reliable electricity, using no fossil fuels and no CO2 emissions. They use high temperatures to gasify algae and other organic substances with high-energy outputs.
- GreenFuel Technologies Corporation recycles carbon dioxide from flue gases to produce biofuels and feed. GreenFuel uses a portfolio of technologies to profitably recycle CO2 from smokestack, fermentation, and geothermal gases via naturally occurring species of algae. Algae can be converted to transportation fuels and feed ingredients or recycled back to a combustion source as biomass for power generation. Industrial facilities need no internal modifications to host a GreenFuel algae farm. In addition, the system does not require fertile land or potable water. They recently reached an agreement to build their first fuel plant in Europe.
- Solazyme is a synthetic biology company that unleashes the power of marine microbes to create clean and scalable solutions for the renewable energy, industrial chemical, and specialty ingredient markets.