Algae biofuel could displace petroleum diesel

Algae biofuel shows great promises but major problems exists.

Biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester) derived from oleaginous microbes—microalgae, yeast, and bacteria—can effectively displace both petroleum diesel and biodiesel produced from plant oils, according to the findings of a new study by a team from Utah State University.

While this is excellent news, there is one huge caveat. Algae biofuel requires enormous amounts of water to produce. Thus, using wastewater and recycling water is essential if commercial scale algae biofuel is to be produced. And even that could be dicey.

A report out today from the National Research Council (NRC) of the U.S. National Academies says that large-scale production of biofuels from algae is untenable with existing technology, as it would require the use of too much water, energy, and fertilizer.