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Alternative Fuel Vehicles >> BioFuels

Algae Biofuel

Have you heard about Algae Biofuel? Most people are familiar with the idea of biofuel – fuel for vehicles which is created not out of petroleum but some kind of organic mass. The most commonly available type of biofuel found in North America is ethanol, which is a type of alcohol blend created from plant products such as corn.

While ethanol (also known as E85) biofuel has been lauded in some quarters as a path towards reducing the dependence on fossil fuels, there are those who question the wisdom of converting wholesale to this type of energy source.

The biggest issue relates to the use of arable land to grow corn and other oil-producing plants to produce biofuel instead of foodstuffs. Since the energy held inside of most biofuel sources is not particularly concentrated, large tracts of land are required in order to produce usable amounts of power, stealing away fields which could be used to grow other types of nourishment and indirectly contributing to higher food costs.

One possible solution to this quandary is to look to the sea for a new source of biofuel. Advances in the field of algae growth and harvesting have made the use of this water-borne organism to produce energy much more viable than in the past. This is mostly due to the fact that algae is an incredibly high-yield fuel crop. It has been estimated that compared to the very best terrestrial biomasses, algae produces 30 times more energy per acre. This is because algae is such an efficient organism that it is able to use its entire surface area in a biological process that converts sunlight into the oils required for energy production.

A further advantage of using algae is that it doesn't require either farmland or valuable fresh water in order to grow. In fact, algae can be harvested from sources as diverse as sea water, waste water from industrial processes and even sewage treatment ponds. On a smaller scale, algae can be grown indoors in plastic tubs or in giant vats – it’s an easy production technique to scale and it doesn't require much in the way of special equipment to do properly.

In light of this fantastic potential for energy production, algae plants which can convert large amounts of algae into usable fuel oil have begun to spring up around the world. This type of energy production is becoming especially popular is regions like Asia where landmass is at a premium and coastlines are long and highly developed. Given that it is possible to accelerate certain types of algae growth through the introduction of carbon dioxide, some nations are exploring the idea of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions through algae farms.

The concept of increasing energy production through the use of waste gases which actually cause the global warming that algae fuels hope to prevent is a radical one whose time finally seems to have come. With environmental concerns and energy costs exerting increasing pressures on the world’s population, this type of joint effort will most likely become more and more common.

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