Saltwater-Based Algae Biodiesel Could be Cost Competitive with Petroleum Diesel?

algae harvesting

Biodiesel produced from saltwater-based Algae could be cost competitive with petroleum diesel, according to some reports.

Aurora Biofuels, located in Alameda, CA has reported their 18 month pilot project produced 1,000 gallons of ATSM quality biodiesel in Florida open ponds of just 1/8th of an acre. The company estimates they could grow 6,000 gallons per acre in full production mode.

A company spokesperson stated, “In the near-term we expect to demonstrate that the economics of this process can produce biodiesel that is price-competitive with fossil fuels.” A 50 acre pond is scheduled for completion in 2010.

In a similar vein, Australian researchers just released a report stating that they have found that biodiesel production for saltwater algae can be competitive with the production of petroleum diesel. However, they also state that due to the cost of transporting biodiesel from an algal farm, the best scenario may be to locate an electricity generating plant in the same vicinity and simply convert the chemical energy into electricity. Creating such a powerplant would also make new jobs for local workers. (The analysis used an assumption of about 1,000 acres of ponds.)

And to highlight one last piece of news, researchers in New York this week reported the development of a new technique which they say can reduce the production cost of algal biodiesel by 40%. Their process is called a ‘continuously flowing fixed-bed’ and uses a solid rather than liquid catalyst, which allows the flow of biodiesel to stay constant. With liquid catalysts each batch is made and then there is a down time of about 30 minutes to start another flow. The researcher, Ben Wen stated,”This is the first economical way to produce biodiesel from algae oil”.

Image Credit: Eugene Zelenko under a GNU Free Documentation License

Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.