Algae Biofuels

Algae biofuels: The need to look for alternative sources of energy that is more cost effective is on the rise these days. As gasoline prices continues to soar, the need for a cheaper and more reliable source of alternative energy is growing rapidly. Basically two forms of biofuel can be created from vegetable of animal fats-bioethanol and biodiesel. These are two different types of fuels that can be produced from biomass.

Let’s look at how algae biofuels is produced. Biodiesel is the product of oil extraction from biomass such as plant or vegetable and even animals, usually oil from corn or soy is based in the production of biodiesel, which causes a cry of alarm from the worldwide population due to the fear of ever increasing food prices. Early last year, a company based in Texas became the first ever to launch into a large scale biodiesel from algae, which is a great way to obtain oil from biomass without sacrificing food sources.

Algae biofuels looks all set to be the next wave of revolution to hit the energy industry.  As the race to produce the best and least costly biodiesel as an alternative for petroleum based products, biodiesel seems to be a very promising alternative to replenish these depleting sources of energy through a renewable and sustainable alternative energy source. Scientists are scouring the country and devoting endless hours to find the most feasible solution to end the world dependence on fossil based fuels. So are algae ready to take on the responsibility to be the savoir of mankind’s economy?

Let’s take a closer look at the algae itself. Algae to biodiesel may seem like a very exciting option but there are some basic things you need to know about algae to biodiesel before jump onto the bandwagon.

Algae are colony of wonderful organisms that can thrive under the most extreme conditions where other life forms have perished.  It only needs there things to survive-water, carbon dioxide and sunlight. This makes the lowly algae a perfect solution for biodiesel production. These green plants that are either unicellular or multicellular are rich in lipids or oils which make it great as the raw material for biodiesel production. Algae into biodiesel have been regarded as the best and possible solution to end the world dependence on foreign imports of fossil based fuels. Algae has been cultivated in large ponds by private companies as research is being done actively to find out the best way to extract oil from these organisms that would yield in the best output if the best quality biodiesel possible.

Now, let’s look at how bioethanol is created.  There are two parts that are involved- hydrolysis and fermentation. The most common way to produce bioethanol would be to use sugar, water and yeast and allowing the solution to ferment in warm conditions. This mixture will gradually turn into a liquid that has fifteen percent alcohol. Finally the yeast will consume itself and dies out and thus stopping the process of fermentation altogether.

At this point, the liquid mash is distilled and purified to get a ninety nine percent bioethanol solution. This is a relatively simple process where sugar is turned into ethanol. Yeast that feeds on that sugar causes fermentation to occur and ethanol would be the result of this process.

The process of fermentation converts sugar or carbohydrate into ethanol and water. The process can be shown by the equation below.

C6H12O6 (glucose) —> 2 CH3CH2OH (ethanol)+ 2 CO2 (carbon dioxide) .

The research to find the best strain that can be used for algae biofuels production is still in progress. More advanced technique to extract the oil from algae is also being developed. But the biofuels from algae is by far the most cost effective way to get fuel from plants or animal sources.

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