Researchers have developed a new biofuel manufacturing process, creating crude oil from wet algae in less than 60 minutes. Even better, byproducts from the process are recycled to aid in growing more algae. Unlike other methods, the algae does not need to be dried, saving time and money, and the system runs continuously, not in batches.
Algae biofuel is expensive to create. This new process could drop costs considerably.
“It’s a formidable challenge, to make a biofuel that is cost-competitive with established petroleum-based fuels,” Oyler added. “This is a huge step in the right direction.”
Algae biofuel production often uses petroleum-based NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus Potassium) fertilizers to grow algae. Over half of US NPK fertilizer is imported. In addition, algae biofuel facilities are generally based in deserts where the sun is strong and water scarce, yet it uses large amounts of water. It takes overÂ three gallons to produce one gallon of algae fuel.
Thus it is clear that algae biofuel is not environmentally friendly nor does it cut dependence of foreign oil. This from Â the president of a non biofuel algae company with 40 years experience and who has no financial interests in biofuel or petroleum.
Nearly every in-depth economic (fiscal and physical) analysis – and especially mass balance analysis of the algae biofuel production process – has shown it to be both economically, environmentally and resource unsustainable and non-renewable at-scales significant enough to impact the U.S.’s energy deficits.
However, some types of algae biofuel doesn’t need NPK fertilizer.
Algae biofuel companies generating algae biofuels and other products from wastes – such as sewage and CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – cattle, dairy, poultry, swine and aquaculture) discharges are largely unaffected directly by the NPK sustainability issues.
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.