Algae fuel is an alternative to liquid fossil fuels that uses algae as its source of energy-rich oils.
Like fossil fuel, algae fuel releases CO2 when burnt, but unlike fossil fuel, algae fuel and other biofuels only release CO2 recently removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis as the algae or plant grew.
The Bio-energy Technologies Office’s Advanced Algal Systems Program is carrying out a long-term applied R&D strategy to increase the yields and lower the costs of algal biofuels by working with partners to develop new technologies, to integrate technologies at commercially-relevant scales, and conduct crosscutting analyses.
This will help researchers understand the potential and challenges of an algal biofuel industry ultimately capable of producing billions of gallons per year of renewable diesel, gasoline, and jet fuels. These activities are integrated with the Office’s longstanding approach to accelerate the commercialization of lignocellulosic biofuels.
It will help in promoting sustainable and affordable algal biofuels.
• Algae benefit the environment: when algae for bio-fuel is grown, it absorbs carbon dioxide due to photosynthesis. This carbon dioxide is later released when burned as a fuel, therefore no net gain of carbon dioxide is released into the air.
• Algae is not harmful to the environment: it is non-invasive and the bio-fuel is produced in an earth friendly algae production plant.
• Algae is cheaper to produce than fossil fuels: algae can produce 10,000 gallons of oil per acre.
• Algae produces numerous byproducts: these include but are not limited to: pet food, fertilizer, feed stock, and even energy drinks.
• Algae can be converted into the three most important liquid fuel types: gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.
• Algae fuel can be used in vehicles without converting them: the type of oil made by algae is usable in car, jet and other types of engines without having to change or replace them.
• Algae is renewable and affordable: “It is produced in the United States, has a low carbon footprint, is price-competitive, and fits seamlessly into our existing energy infrastructure”.
• Algae as a bio-fuel is expensive to produce because the research and development of algae bio-fuel is limited at this point in time, it is still relatively expensive to produce.
• Algae as bio-fuel would threaten Oil Company profits although some oil companies (Shell, Chevron, BP) are conducting research on this alternative energy source, they are not ready to fully commit to the idea of green crude.
• Growing algae can be risky because when algae is grown in a pond, it is cheaper to produce oil. However, the process can be disrupted by animals if not placed a closed, controlled system.