Biodiesel from algae may not be as green as it seems
BUBBLING green tubes filled with algae gobbling up carbon dioxide and producing biodiesel may sound like the perfect way to make clean fuel, but it could generate nearly four times the greenhouse emissions from regular diesel.
How we farm algae is crucial to making algal biodiesel environmentally viable, says Anna Stephenson at the University of Cambridge. She has developed a computer model that calculates the carbon footprint of producing, refining and burning algal biodiesel.
Journal reference: Energy and Fuels, DOI: 10.1021/ef1003123
2. The Race to Make Fuel Out of Algae Poses Risks as Well as Benefits
The first is simply supply. A central question dominating algal biofuel conferences is whether the best oil-producing algae crop will come from strains occurring in nature, or if they will need to be genetically modified to enhance their fuel-producing potential.
If researchers choose to modify them, then the algae basking in open pools under the sun's rays will have genomes dotted with genes from foreign species. Those algae could cause problems, according to a small group of academics and researchers.
Their concerns begin with something as ephemeral as a breeze that could pick up genetically modified microalgae and carry them into nearby fields and streams to displace natural strains, alter the ecosystem, and perhaps get into the human food chain.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/07/22/22climatewire-the-race-to-make-fuel-out-of-algae-poses-ris-80037.html
EADS aircraft runs on algae biofuel
According to EADS, the aircraft has, as of now, been only certified by European aviation officials to fly with one engine powered by biofuel.
Jean Botti, chief technical officer of EADS, said the use of algae biofuel made the aircraft 10 per cent more efficient and fuel consumption was 1.5 litres per hour lower when compared to conventional JET-A1 fuel.
'Algaes have more energy content than the equivalent diesel fuel,' he explained.
[was the intended word "alkenes" rather than "algaes"?]