Traditional fuel sources are one of the main components causing ozone and other emissions in this country. The extraction and transport of fuels also causes other hazards and risks and, in some cases, political instability.
Algae has been discovered as a viable source of biofuel. In fact, the Department of Energy has committed to $24 million in funding for research on the use of algae as a fuel source.
Algae has many benefits. Like other plants, algae absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It can be farmed and harvested in similar ways to other plants, but does not complete for land with agriculture. Algae also has a very high energy to acre ratio.
The process of extracting fuel from algae starts with extracting the oil from the algae. This can be done mechanically or chemically. Although chemical methods are typically more efficient, they can create carcinogens or other hazards. After the oil is extracted, called “green crude”, it then goes through a similar process of transesterification like other types of biodiesels.
There are many interested stakeholders in the process of extracting fuel from algae. I have listed some below:
Department of Energy
Algae is already being used as a fuel source in some small groups. To move towards large scale use of this type of technology, a change would need to be made to the current car industry. Biodiesel fuels have still not caught on mainstream because many cars do not run on diesel, it is a difficult process to make biodiesel, and these types of fuels are not readily available to consumers. Private industry would need to adopt this technology and make biodiesels more accessible for this type of technology to catch on.