Algal Biofuels: Closer to Sustainability?

Originally published 16 December 2014 on IHS Engineering360.

To tackle concerns driven by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, chemical majors are using bio-process engineering technologies to convert carbon sources into new energy forms.

Presently, organic materials like plants, agricultural waste, forest residues, microbes and other sources otherwise known as biomass are being transformed into useful biofuels such as methane or transportation fuels: ethanol and biodiesel to meet environmental sustainability goals. To encourage those efforts, the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced a $25 million fund for biofuel research with one target: to drive down the cost of algal-derived biofuels to below $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) over the next five years.

Biofuels are split into four generations based on their biomass source. The first generation is produced from food crops such as sugars and vegetable oils. The second one (also known as advanced biofuels) is generated from non-food crops like agricultural waste and lignocellulosic biomass.

IHS Engineering360, December 2014.


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