Study Says That Algae Could Replace Petroleum And Soybean Diesel


Ethanol has lost a lot of support in the past few years for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest knocks against corn-derived ethanol is the reduced horsepower and fuel economy, causing some to be wary of an alternative fuel promises. But a new study shows that algae-based biodiesel has nearly the same horsepower and torque output as petrol and soybean diesel.

The study compared standard petrol-derived diesel with yeast, bacteria, and microalgae biodiesels, as well as a soybean-derived biodiesel. Compared with the standard diesel, all of the biodiesels delivered output of between 93% and 96.5%, resulting in little loss of horsepower, though torque was barely affected.

Fuel consumption was higher, but emissions were lower, especially for the microalgae biodiesel. Researchers estimate that the lower NoX emissions, especially in the microalgae biodiesel, came from the lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids. With algae biodiesel now available for purchase at select gas stations in California, algae may become a hot commodity now that ethanol seems to be falling out of favor. Even the military seems to think algae might be a viable replacement for petrol, and is even testing it on jets.

With tests like these showing that power is mostly unaffected, and that emissions might actually go down, adds to the fact that algae biodiesel blends have achieved price-parity with standard diesel fuels. Is algae fuel the future?

Source: Green Car Congress

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • The corn lobby’s gonna GET you for this, DeMorro! : )

    No, seriously, agribusiness has a HUGE stake in ethanol, helped in large part by US government regulations that require a certain amount of ethanol be blended into ever gallon of gasoline sold in America. And why is that? Because agribusiness spread enough cash around Washington to get the government to create these regulations in the first place 20 years ago.

    Originally, the idea was that ethanol would help reduce auto emissions. But that’s just the bill of goods ArcherDanielsMidland and its agribusiness pals sold to Congress and the EPA.

    There are many alternatives to corn derived ethanol available. But none of them stand a chance in the marketplace until the iron grip of the agribusiness giants is broken. In other words, new interested parties will have to bribe our government to alter the rules that other interested parties bribed the government to introduce in the first place.

    What a country.

    • Christopher DeMorro

      @ Steve

      Woke up next to an ear of corn this morning. I think they are trying to send me a message…

  • A brief google search suggests algae won’t achieve price parity with petroleum for 5 to 10 years (if at all). If it has achieved price parity, this is big news to me. I’d appreciate more info.

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  • Željko Serdar

    Algal biomass can produce the same amount of energy as the equivalent
    amount of coal, and can be refined to produce higher grade fuels such as
    diesel and ethanol among others. Implementing Algae Production Systems
    in a large scale can provide enough energy to replace fossil fuels used
    in most industrial processes and means of transportation, which account
    for the vast majority of GHG emissions. Algae is the only fuel
    alternative that is renewable, clean, portable and can be produced
    industrially with high yields to offset and reverse the negative effects
    of fossil fuels on the environment. CCRES ALGAE TEAM

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