New sources of biofuel to take pressure off traditional crops

Sep 10, 2009

"Salt-loving algae could be the key to the successful development of biofuels as well as being an efficient means of recycling atmospheric carbon dioxide", Professor John Cushman of the University of Nevada told the Society for General Microbiology meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, today (10 September).

The current major limitation of biofuel production is the lack of adequate feedstocks, soybeans and corn, for biodiesel and ethanol production, respectively. Halophytic (salt-loving) micro-algae can be grown on marginal lands with brackish or salt water unsuitable for traditional agriculture. Their growth is non-seasonal, making them 10-30 times more productive than terrestrial crops. They can be grown on municipal wastewater and have widespread potential for recycling carbon dioxide from biomass-, coal-, and gas-fired .

Algae are adapted to a wide range of water sources, but grow year-round in warm, tropical or sub-tropical climates. Using geothermal heat, Professor Cushman has been able to extend the growing season for algae production from three months to nine months in colder climates.

"Our work aims to find suitable algal strains to use for production", said Professor Cushman. "We need to identify the key components of the biosynthetic pathway to learn how to improve oil production and alter desirable oil characteristics with immediate and significant impact on the emerging algal feedstock biofuels industry".

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: First detailed picture of a cancer-related cell enzyme in action on a chromosome unit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study finds concerns with biofuels

Mar 31, 2008

Biofuels are widely considered one of the most promising sources of renewable energy by policy makers and environmentalists alike. However, unless principles and standards for production are developed and implemented, certain ...

Algae: Biofuel of the future?

Aug 19, 2008

University of Virginia researchers have a plan to greatly increase algae oil yields by feeding the algae extra carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) and organic material like sewage, meaning the algae could simultaneously ...

Algae-Based Biofuel From Fish

Sep 01, 2009

Right now, when biofuel is produced using algae, cultures are grown and then processed into fuel. But the process is expensive and difficult. Now a company in Texas, LiveFuels, Inc., hopes that it will be ...

Recommended for you

Cell division, minus the cells

46 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —The process of cell division is central to life. The last stage, when two daughter cells split from each other, has fascinated scientists since the dawn of cell biology in the Victorian era. ...

A new method simplifies the analysis of RNA structure

59 minutes ago

To understand the function of an RNA molecule, similar to the better-known DNA and vital for cell metabolism, we need to know its three-dimensional structure. Unfortunately, establishing the shape of an RNA ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.