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So how can we harness energy from algae?

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These microorganisms thrive in warm water with sources of light and carbon dioxide CO2 , in other words an environment ideal for photosynthesis. Algae are circulated through photobioreactors that are made for the sole purpose of photosynthesis and rapid growth. The water is recycled and minimal amounts are needed compared to biodiesel production from land plants. When the algae are grown, the water is drained and the rest sent through a high-speed centrifuge to separate the crude oil. Other byproducts of this process can be used as animal feed. Biodiesel is carbon neutral.

Biofuel from algae

This means that the amount of carbon dioxide that is released when the fuel is burnt is exactly the same as amount that is absorbed when the fuel is grown. There is no doubt that increasing the algae biofuel production have the potential of contributing in fighting the climate crisis or the planetary emergency , as Al Gore calls it.

You are probably wondering if you can learn how to make biodiesel fuel from algae at home. This is indeed possible, but the processes are complicated and you need a variety of expensive equipment if you are going to end up with algae biodiesel. If there is enough interest on this subject, I will make a separate article taking you through the entire process.

Algal Biofuels Dead? 'Not So Fast', Says Algal Biofuel Researcher

Use the Contact Us form in the main menu above or post a comment below if you are interested. Cost is the main problem with biodiesel production from algae. The plants need an environment with sufficient amounts of natural sunlight as well as high temperatures.

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Spending energy and money on these two factors will not result in cost competitive fuel. It will be interesting to see if more research and better technology will be able to lower the production costs to the level of fossil fuel. I have sufficient interest to make a reactor of a biodiesel engine of the house, but it is not enough information. Maybe it is possible to make separate article, accepting you through all process and to send on my mail mail.

Is it viable proposition to start production of ALgae and biodiesel from it. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Just as its name would imply, in this method, algae are grown on open ponds, particularly in very warm and sunny parts of the globe, with the hope of maximizing production. This is the simplest form of production, but not surprisingly, it also has some serious drawbacks.

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In order to truly maximize algae production using this method, water temperature needs to be controlled which can prove very difficult. In addition, this method is more dependent on weather than others, another variable that is impossible to control. Another method for growing algae is a vertical growth or closed loop production system. This process actually came about as biofuel companies sought to produce algae quicker and more efficiently than what was possible utilizing open pond growth.

Vertical growing places algae in clear, plastic bags which allows them to be exposed to sunlight on more than just one side. These bags are stacked high and protected from the elements with a cover.

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While that extra sun may seem trivial, in reality, the clear plastic bag provides just enough exposure to sunlight to increase the rate of the algae production. Obviously, the greater the algae production, the greater the potential amount of oil that will later be extracted. And unlike the open pond method where algae is exposed to contamination, the vertical growth method isolates algae from this concern.

A third method of extraction that biodiesel companies are continuing to perfect is the construction of algae closed-tank bioreactor plants to further increase already-high oil production. In this method, algae isn't grown outside. Instead, indoor plants are built with large, round drums that are able to grow algae under near perfect conditions.

Within these barrels, the algae can be manipulated into growing at maximum levels--even to the point they can be harvested every day. This method, understandably, results in a very high output of algae and oil for biodiesel. Some companies are locating their closed bioreactor plants near energy plants so that extra carbon dioxide can actually be recycled rather than polluting the air.

Algal Biofuels | Bioenergy | NREL

Biodiesel manufacturers continue to hone the closed container and closed-pond processes, with some developing a variation known as fermentation. In this method, algae is cultivated in closed containers where it is "fed" sugar to spur growth. Following this process is attractive to growers since it provides complete control over an environment.

A lesser advantage is that this method is not reliant upon weather or similar climatic conditions to be viable.

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However, this process has researchers considering sustainable methods for obtaining enough sugar to maximize algae production. Share Flipboard Email. Lori Weaver is a freelance writer covering renewable fuel and green transport technologies, as well as food and feed issues in the agricultural sector.