Algae Biodiesel the Fuel of the Future

By: Ron Subs

Most American consumers have been hit hard by soaring gas prices, and many people from individuals to research firms are searching for an alternative fuel source that is renewable, economical, and environmentally friendly.

Biodiesel made from crops such as corn and soybeans is one such alternative that most people are aware of, but another option, algae biodiesel, is one of the newest and most promising fuel sources to date. One thing is for sure, if a solution to the ever increasing gas prices is not found soon millions of people will be unable to afford their daily commute.

Many people have put their hopes in biodiesel made from crops as the solution to oil dependency. However, there are problems with biodiesel made from crops namely the displacement of food and the amount of crops it takes to produce a gallon of oil. Using food crops such as soybeans and corn to produce oil takes away from the amount crops that could have been used for food.

Using food crops to make biodiesel is also not very economical, it takes an acre of soybeans to produce about 50 gallons of biodiesel and an acre of corn to produce only about 20 gallons of biodiesel. Compared to the 5,000 or more gallons of biodieseal produced from one acre of algae, food crops are underperforming.

The fuel consumption for cars, trucks, and other transportation in the US accounts for almost 70% of total oil consumption. While this is a huge chunk of our oil needs, it would take only about 15,000 square miles of algae farms to produce enough biodiesel to meet our transportation needs.

That would be one algae farm that measured 120 miles by 125 miles or 50 algae farms that were only 300 square miles each. With the space requirements feasible, algae bio diesel just may be the fuel of the future as it is economical, renewable, and will not displace food crops.

Making biodiesel from algae is a complicated process, but it is not harder than making it from other sources such as crops or waste oil and it is even possible for consumers to make their own algae biodiesel at home. In fact, making biodiesel from algae is actually easier than from other sources such as waste oil because it does not require the level of filtering or titrating. It is possible that once consumers learn how to make algae bio diesel for themselves that they can in fact become responsible for their own energy needs and stop depending on large energy companies.

This fact has the potential to lower energy prices simply because the big energy companies would not be the only place to get gasoline and heating oil. It is becoming more and more common for individuals to make their own fuel form waste oil but as it become harder to get waste oil form commercial sources many more people will begin to turn to algae as the fuel source of choice.

Although algae biodiesel has been touted as the fuel of the future by many, one thing is for sure, if we do not find alternatives to cut our dependence on gasoline and crude oil, we will continue to struggle as gas prices rise.

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