Microalgae are constituted by a series of unicellular organisms which can carry out the process of photosynthesis. It means that, as they absorb sunlight, they produce energy that can be stored on the oil that is generated by them. Scientists are investigating an optimal way to take advantage of such substance to produce a type of fuel that would provide ecological support to the environment by reducing the pollution.
Renewable resources to produce ecologic fuel
The bio-oil is identical to the conventional fuel. However, since it is produced under controlled conditions, it does not contain sulfur, heavy metals or other unwanted pollutants. Therefore, it is a cleaner solution when compared with standard combustible.
Algae have long been used to produce combustible. However, they require a high dose of fertilizer in order to grow rapidly and supply the necessary amount of the required element. The solution consists on cultivating these organisms on specialized plastic farms. According to the results, 5 square kilometers of seaweed can provide up to 2.4 million gallons of bio-fuel per year.
A study conducted in San Francisco revealed that around 4 farms can produce up to 2100 gallons per acre. In addition, there is the advantage that algae cultivation does not require a cooling system which is a very common problem in artificial ponds. These homesteads only need water and sunlight to work and they can be used to clean the environment in many ways.
With enough nutrients and sunlight, algae are able to develop and at their optimum point they can be transformed into hydrocarbons. The process can last from 1 to 10 days. Production can be done in two different ways. The first one consists on closed systems where seaweeds are cultivated under controlled pH and temperature conditions in tanks that are isolated from external factors.
The second type is based on the use of open systems. However it has been discontinued due to pollution problems and the difficulty in terms of controlling the cultivation conditions.
Identifying the best type of algae to produce bio-fuel
Rose Ann Cattolico is a prestigious researcher who has been investigating for more than 20 years the properties and the physiology of different varieties of algae. She considers these organisms as an important source of environmentally benign fuels for all kinds of needs, from automobiles to jet propulsion aircrafts.
On the other hand, a prominent company known as Allied Minds has invested a considerable portion of capital in the work of a proficient biology professor at the University of Washington. This situation gave place to the creation of a new company focused on the investigation of the production of bio-fuel from algae.
All these researchers aim to find a variety that is most suitable for the production of lipids required to generate a particular type of fuel. Seaweeds grow rapidly and do not require the use of productive farmland. Additionally, they can be cultivated with different alternative sources of nutrition like wastewater.
The production of fuel from seaweed is at this moment the most attractive option. It would provide the solution to many concerns such as the effects of climate change, the increasing demand of alternative combustible and the constant rise of the cost of oil.Read More