Planet Gore

Algal Biofuel R&D

As a follow up to my previous post on biofuel made from green algae, a new algal-biofuel study is out on the technology’s potential for commercial viability. The R&D upshot: more R is needed before we get to D.

Prepared in association with Algae World 2008 scheduled in Singapore November 17-18, the position paper ‘Opportunities and Challenges in Algae Biofuels Production’ by Dr. John R. Benemann is being offered by free download. As algae biodiesel races to the forefront as a promising alternative energy source, Dr. Benemann’s paper provides an objective assessment of the current challenges facing algae biofuel development as well as its potential as a viable biofuel source.

Dr. John R. Benemann, co-author of the famous 1998 report to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory entitled ‘A Look Back at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program: Biodiesel from Algae’, is considered one of the foremost experts on algae biodiesel. In his timely position paper ‘Opportunities and Challenges in Algae Biofuels Production’, he asserts that for algae energy to become a reality, “microalgae for biofuels in general and oil production in particular . . . still requires relatively long-term R&D, with emphasis currently more on the research rather than the development.”
To ensure greater algae biodiesel productivity, it would be necessary to:

·         Overcome the unique challenges, as well as enhance the benefits, inherent in open pond, closed photobioreactor, and wastewater treatment algae fuel production systems.

·         Identify reliable algal strains that are capable of producing high levels of algae oil as well as being resistant to contamination, adaptable to temperature extremes, tolerant of high oxygen levels and suited to local water conditions in growth ponds.

·         Develop low-cost algae biofuel harvesting technologies.

·         Substantially reduce the overall operational cost of algae biodiesel production systems. 


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