01 February 2010

Algae Energy: The Way Of The Future?

Algae fuel is the hottest topic going in an eco-friendly world. It's also called algal fuel, oilgae, algaeoleum and third-generation bio fuel. Algae and other organisms capture carbon dioxide and sunlight and convert it into oxygen and biomass (photosynthesis).

Approximately 99% of the carbon dioxide can be converted. This was shown in 1992 by Weissman and Tillett in large open-pond systems. As of 2008, this type of fuel is still too expensive to replace commercial fuels. However, several companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce operating costs and make the production of algae oil viable.

Due to the economic problems in the world, high oil prices and other bio fuel sources, interest has grown in farming algae (algaculture). Fresh water sources are not affected: it can be produced by using ocean and waste water and are highly biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment.

Oil comes from millions of years of buildup from algae and other natural residues and is buried, compressed and drilled. It is figured that this supply will be depleted on 300 years so alternative forms of energy have to be looked at. Research has shown that algae could supply enough fuel to meet all of America's transportation needs in the form of biodiesel using only 0.2% of the nations land.

Algae, often called "pond scum" is the ultimate in renewal energy and 20 patents are held by Glen Kertz, a plant physiologist and entrepreneur. The U.S. Department of Energy studies using algae as an alternative fuel from 1978 to 1996 but it was decided that algae oil could never complete economically with fossil fuels.