Algae bio fuel – also known as oilgae, algal fuel, or algaeoleum – is a type of biofuel derived from algae. Several companies and governments are currently funding research project focused on making algae bio fuel an economically and environmentally feasible alternative to fossil fuels. Ecological concerns and high oil prices have worked together to shine a spotlight on algae as a potential source for biodiesel, biogasoline, bioethanol, biomethanol, biobutanol and other types of biofuels for the 21st century.
Microalgae is currently the main focus for algae bio fuel research, chiefly due to its less complex structure Several species of microalgae are also noted for their high oil content and capacity for growing really fast. A microalga is smaller than 0.4 mm in diameter and the group includes famous members like the Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) and diatoms. Macro algae can on the other hand grow really large; the seaweed that makes up the vast kelp forests of the northeastern Pacific is one notable example.
Algae fossil fuels and carbon dioxide
Unlike fossil fuels, the use of algae bio fuel does not introduce more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Fossil fuels that are brought up from the ground and combusted increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the carbon they contain have been hidden away underground for millions of years. Algae will on the other hand absorb existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. When algae bio fuel is combusted carbon dioxide is released into the air, but never more than what the algae absorbed from the air during its lifetime. Right now, the burning of fossil fuels produces roughly 21.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Estimations show that about 50 percent of this can be removed from the atmosphere by natural processes such as plant growth, but the remaining 50 percent – a whopping 10.65 billion tonnes – stays in the atmosphere.