Saturday, 4 January 2014

Algae Biodiesel

Way back in 1912 Dr. Rudolf Diesel remarked “The use of vegetable oil as fuel might seem of no importance in our times. However, such products can gain importance in the course of time and reach an equal status compared with today's petroleum and these coal-tar product”, which stands true today.

In the wake to look for alternative energy, researches all over the world are trying their hands hard at creating more and more energy alternatives. Algae is one of them. Today, algae is being used at a wide scale to produce oil from it. Microalgalroute to biodiesel is a potential alternative to vegetable oil and overall economics of the process needs improvement to be competitive substitute to petrodiesel.

In the beginning, there were algae, but there was no oil.Then, from algae came oil. Now, the algae are still there, but oil is fast depleting. In future, there will be no oil, but there will still be algae. So it makes complete sense to explore if we can again get oil from algae and that is exactly what the scientists are trying to do – to explore the potential of getting oil from Algae Biodiesel.

Algae consume carbon dioxide as they grow, so they could be used to capture CO2 from power stations and other industrial plant that would otherwise go into the atmosphere. Algae has a rapid growth rate and certain species of algae can be harvested daily. Algae bio-fuel contains no sulphur,  is non-toxic  and is highly bio-degradable. And thus, does not harm the environment at all.

Various factors like selected Algal strain, light conditions, the temperature, water flow rate, supply of carbon dioxide, minerals and vitamins in the water, etc can collectively determine the growth rate of the algae. Selection of Algal strain remains another very important criteria. Some algae naturally manufacture hydrocarbons that are suitable as high energy fuels. Botrycoccusbraunii, a common species, can contain more than 50% oil, mostly in form of hydrocarbons. Algae biodiesel is carbon neutral that ensures no net accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Looking at the various benefits of Algae-Biodiesel we can certainly imagine a healthy environment for our future generations to come and provide them with a natural source of energy formation.

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