Tom Freyberg looks at the European funded All-Gas project that aims to treat wastewater solids with a combination of anaerobic digestion and algae to produce liquid biofuels in addition to biogas.
First generation biofuels from crops never really bloomed into a fruitful harvest. Opponents criticized using up valuable land to grow crops and fuel the cars of the rich, instead of filling the stomachs of the poor. Second generation biofuels ? made from biomass – have proved harder to extract the required fuel and fully crack.
And then along came algae. Unlike first generation biofuels, algae can be grown using land and water not suitable for plant and food production. Consuming solar energy and reproducing itself, algae generates a type of oil that has a similar molecular structure to petroleum products produced today. As if this wasn't enough ? algae growth also consumes carbon dioxide, a known major greenhouse gas (GHG).
Algae – Bio-fuel of the future
Earlier this year U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the Department of Energy would make $14 million of finance available to support research and development into biofuels from algae. The DoE has suggested that up to 17% of the oil imported for transport could be replaced with biofuels derived from algae.
Meanwhile Europe is going even further and mandating the gradual replacement of fossil fuels with biofuels. An EU Directive stipulates that by 2020 a total of 20% of energy needs should be produced by renewable fuels.
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