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Algae fuel

Algae fuel, algae biofuel or algae oil is an alternative to liquid fossil fuels that use algae as a source of energy-rich oils. In addition, algal fuels are an alternative to known biofuel sources such as corn and sugarcane. When made from seaweed (macroalgae) it can be known as seaweed fuel or seaweed oil.

A number of companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce capital and operating costs and make algal fuel production commercially viable. Like fossil fuel, algal fuel releases CO2 when burned, but unlike fossil fuel, algal fuel and other biofuels only release CO2 recently removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis as the algae or plants grow. The energy crisis and the world food crisis have aroused interest in algaculture (agricultural algae) for the production of biodiesel and other biofuels on land unsuitable for agriculture. Among the attractive features of algal fuels are that they can be grown with minimal impact on freshwater resources, can be produced using saline and wastewater, have a high flash point, and are biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment. if spilled. Algae cost more per unit of mass than other second-generation biofuel crops due to high operating and capital costs, but they claim to produce between 10 and 100 times more fuel per unit area. The US Department of Energy estimates that if algae fuel were to replace all petroleum fuel in the US, it would take 39,000 km2, which is just 0.42% of the US map, or about half the area of Maine land. This is less than 1/7 of the area of ​​corn harvested in the United States in 2000.

The head of the Algal Biomass Organization stated in 2010 that algal fuel could reach price parity with oil in 2018 if production tax credits were granted. However, in 2013, Exxon Mobil President and CEO Rex Tillerson said that after committing to spend up to $600 million over 10 years developing a joint venture with J. Craig Venter's Synthetic Genomics in 2009, Exxon pulled back after four years (and $100 million) when it realized that algal fuel is "probably further away" than 25 years from commercial viability. In 2017, Synthetic Genomics and ExxonMobil reported a breakthrough in joint research into advanced biofuels. The discovery was that they managed to double the lipid content (from 20% in its natural form to 40-55%) in a genetically modified strain of Nannochloropsis gaditana. On the other hand, Solazyme, Sapphire Energy, and Algenol, among others began commercial sale of algae biofuel in 2012 and 2013 and 2015, respectively. In 2017, most efforts were abandoned or changed to other apps, leaving only a few.


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