Research reveals potential for producing liquid fuels using microalgae

January 8, 2013 by Linda Morton
Research reveals potential for producing liquid fuels using microalgae
Algae biodiesel.

(Phys.org)—Due to continuing high demand, depletion of non-renewable resources and increasing concerns about climate change, fossil fuel-derived transportation fuels face constant challenges from both a world market and an environmental perspective. Producing renewable transportation fuel from microalgae attracts much attention because of its potential for fast growth rates, high oil content, ability to grow in unconventional scenarios, and its inherent carbon neutrality.

Microalgae are microscopic, single-cell organisms that exist in fresh water and and also at the bottom of the food chain. Under optimal conditions, microalgae can be grown in massive, almost limitless, amounts. Almost half of microalgae's weight is lipid oil. Scientists have been studying this oil for decades to convert it into biodiesel – a fuel that burns cleaner and more efficiently than petroleum. Moreover, the use of microalgae would minimize "food versus fuel" concerns associated with several biomass strategies, as microalgae do not compete with in the food chain.

Recent research conducted at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory on transportation fuels production using provides a more fundamental understanding of catalyst selection and conversion processes using computational modeling.

This research shows the potential of various thermocatalytic pathways to produce alternative transportation fuels from algae and identifies key areas where computational modeling should be directed to optimize the process. A recent article was published about this study in RSC Advances.

Explore further: Can algae-derived oils support large-scale, low-cost biofuels production?

Related Stories

Algal oil to help healthy diets

July 20, 2012

Algal oils are a sustainable solution to solve future resource problems, according to Roger Huerlimann, a PhD student at James Cook University in Townsville.

Microalgae could be Texas' next big cash crop

July 6, 2011

Just as corn and peanuts stunned the world decades ago with their then-newly discovered multi-beneficial uses and applications, Texas AgriLife Research scientists in Corpus Christi think microalgae holds even more promise.

Microalgae 'bulging with biofuel potential'

July 10, 2012

MISA researchers from SARDI have isolated and evaluated a ‘super strain’ of a native microalgae species that could form the basis of a local biofuels industry.

Recommended for you

Google to serve next version of Android as 'Oreo"

August 22, 2017

An upcoming update to Google's Android software finally has a delectable name. The next version will be known as Oreo, extending Google's tradition of naming each version after a sweet treat.

Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

August 16, 2017

Standing in a warehouse in a Moscow suburb, Dmitry Marinichev tries to speak over the deafening hum of hundreds of computers stacked on shelves hard at work mining for crypto money.

Researchers clarify mystery about proposed battery material

August 15, 2017

Battery researchers agree that one of the most promising possibilities for future battery technology is the lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) battery, which could provide three times as much power for a given weight as today's ...

Signs of distracted driving—pounding heart, sweaty nose

August 15, 2017

Distracted driving—texting or absent-mindedness—claims thousands of lives a year. Researchers from the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute have produced an extensive dataset examining how ...

0 comments

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.