I think the primary advantage of biofuels over the alternative energy sources centers around their intended use. They can be used with great efficiency for transportation – cars, buses, military vehicles. Alternative energy sources like nuclear, wind, and solar energy are more effective at providing energy for buildings, but they are not yet nearly effective at providing energy for cars.

Frequently Asked Questions about Algae Biofuels

Q: What are algae?
Algae are simple organisms that range from very small, single-celled microalgae to macroalgae that group into very large organisms such as kelp. There are more than 300,000 species of algae in global algae culture collections. The vast majority of algae are photosynthetic, deriving energy from the sun to produce energy and biomass.
Q: Are algae currently a commercial crop?
Yes. Algae are grown commercially around the world, primarily for nutritional, feed, and specialty product use.
Q: What is required to grow algae?
The primary requirements for growing algae are sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Algae also require nutrients and environmental conditions appropriate to the specific algal species.

Q: How much CO2 is used by algae?
Algae productivity is dependent on carbon intake, as carbon constitutes over 50% by weight of Algae Biomass. Algae can consume high concentrations of CO2 (between 5-30%) as it is emitted from power, cement and chemical plants before it is absorbed into the atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2, at less than 0.04%, need to be supplemented with additional CO2 to deliver high productivities.
Q: What kind of algae is used for biofuels?
Microalgae are selected based on a number of factors, most notably high innate growth rates, favorable overall composition (lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins), and ability to grow in specific climatic conditions.
Q: How much algae grows in a hectare?
There are a number of variables including innate growth rate per species and seasonal availability of sunlight. We anticipate that a commercial algae farm will grow an average of 10 times more oil per hectare as compared to Jatropha. We estimate a modest growth rate of 100 tons Algae Biomass per hectare per year. From this we shall obtain 25 tons of oil & balance shall be used for cattle feed.
Q: What products does an algae crop yield?
An algae farm is designed to produce a number of products including algal oil, delipidated algal meal (DAM) and dried whole algae (DWA). The algal oil is suitable for conversion to biodiesel and can be substituted for any other vegetable oil (soy, palm, Jatropha) in a commercial biodiesel production plant. The DAM and DWA are suitable for a wide variety of animal feed applications.
Q: How much oil can be made from algae?
Different species of algae generate different amounts of oil. Algae species can contain from 2% to 70% of their weight as oil.
Q: How does Algal meal compare to other meal products?
The algae meal has a high protein content compared to other animal feed product such as dried distiller’s grains from ethanol production or soy meal after oil removal.
Q: What is the benefit of focusing on algae instead of other energy crops like Jatropha?
Growdiesel has done substantial work on Jatropha, in fact we have a portfolio of 30 different fast growing variants of Jatropha. We also have a model plantation in 100 acres in India. However we discovered that Algae have some advantages to other energy crops, specifically:
 Algae are the fastest growing plants in the world and can be grown year round, unlike seasonal crops. Algae farming does not require agricultural land or clean water, so it does not compete with food crops for these resources.
 While it is difficult to compare one energy crop to another, per hectare of farming of algae is around 10 to 100 times more productive than corn, soy, palm or Jatropha,
 Unlike other energy crops, the entire biomass produced from algae can be used in end products. Lastly, the algae can be used to produce renewable biofuels needed to reduce dependence on non-renewable fuel sources such as coal, oil and natural gas.
Please register online for attending Algae Biofuel Workshop. Experts shall be available at the workshop for providing you complete info on this wonderful project.

Q: Do you believe that algae are the solution to the world’s energy problems?
We believe that ecological and energy issues are complicated and will require a variety of solutions -- of which algae will be one.
Q: Are there any accurate measures to compare algae to other energy crops?
Due to a large number of variables, it is difficult to accurately compare one energy crop to another. We recommend comparing energy crops based on the final products produced, and the resources required to produce those products.
Q: How are algae different from other energy crops?
Algae are different from other energy crops in one significant way--the entire biomass produced from an algae farm can be used in end products that are economically valuable. Unlike comparable crops (corn, sugar cane, rapeseed/canola, palm, soybeans, sunflower, Jatropha, etc.) which typically contain a substantial amount of wasted biomass, 100% of algal biomass can be used to create new products.
Q: How does algae productivity compare to other energy crops?
Unlike seasonal crops, algae can be grown year round. Since an algae crop does not result in wasted biomass, algae are generally considered to be more productive than comparable energy crops. While other TBO like Jatropha takes 2-3 years for a commercial crop, algae farm can start yielding within 2-3 days. While Jatropha gives crop once a year, algae can give oil on daily basis just like milk.
Q: How much CO2 can algae consume?
CO2 consumption is based on the overall lipid/protein/carbohydrates balance of the final algae. Lipids are typically about 75% carbon by weight, with carbohydrates approximately 40% carbon by weight, and proteins between the two. Algae are approximately 50-55% carbon by weight; about 1.9 times the biomass weight in CO2 is required to generate algae with this composition. If algae with a higher lipid content is produced, that ratio will be higher; the higher the carbohydrate composition, the lower this ratio.
Q: How large must an algae farm be to mitigate emissions from a typical power plant?
Based on information in public domain, for approximately 50 power plants in India that generate and sell electricity as their primary business and use coal as the primary power source, the average facility nameplate size is 655 megawatts. For this 'average' plant, when both the power plant and algae farm are in full operation, approximately 8000 hectares of algae growing area is required to consume 40% of CO2 emissions. To achieve a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions, 500 hectares of algae growing area would be required for each power plant. This becomes an interesting business model for the utility as it can generate huge carbon credits by converting its emissions to biodiesel.
Q: How much water does an algae farm require?
An enclosed algae farm uses minimal water and the evaporation losses are also limited. Some water is required for the photosynthesis reaction, and some is lost in the creation of algal products. However as compared to any other energy crop, algae farm consumes just 1% of water.
Q: Can an algae farm use waste feed water streams that are high in nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen?
Nutrient-rich waste water feed streams will be used to provide some or all of the nutrients needs of the algae farm. Streams which have a potential to be used in this way include runoff from animal facilities and treated wastewater.

Q: Where can I get complete info to establish an algae Biofuel project?
Please register for attending Algae Biofuel Workshop 2010. Experts shall be available at the workshop for providing you complete info on this wonderful project.
Q: What is Photosynthesis?
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants utilize the energy in the sun’s rays to produce energy and new plant matter (biomass). Photosynthesis is the base reaction supplying the vast majority of energy used by plants and animals on earth. In photosynthesis, energy (photons) from the sun’s rays converts carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrate plus oxygen. The carbohydrate can be converted to protein or fat.
Solar energy is spread along a wide range of wavelengths, of which only a portion is useable for photosynthesis. The wavelengths useable by plants are known as photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and include about 45-50% of the total solar energy. Energy requirements of the photosynthesis reaction reduce the usability of that 45-50% by another factor of 4, making the theoretical energy use roughly 11% of the overall solar energy.
This photosynthetic efficiency is translated into biomass including fats, proteins, complex carbohydrates (cellulose, lignin, etc.) and simple carbohydrates. Also, most crops contain water. To eliminate the effect of water, we present values based on dry biomass. We also need to understand that production of other compounds from simple carbohydrates requires some of the energy.

We have grown algae at a photosynthetic efficiency of approximately 5.4% under natural sunlight. General crops grow at a photosynthetic efficiency of approximately 1%. Algae can be grown much more efficiently because of the nature of the bioreactor and the removal of factors that might limit growth such as lack of nutrients or CO2.
You can also improve algae growth by using artificial lighting. Algae will grow 24 hours per day if there is sufficient light. However, due to the energy losses inherent in each step from generating electricity to create light and using the light for photosynthesis, this is not economical for anything other than studies, unless the value of the final product is very high (as it is for some commercial algae farms where artificial light is used).
Algae could allow companies to recycle emitted CO2 from flue gases and even earn a profit from being "green". Fast growing algae use the process of photosynthesis to harness sunlight and carbon dioxide and then convert them into carbohydrates. The cells containing these valuable materials can then be utilized for the production of various fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol, or used as ingredients for animal feed.
Companies, having issues with environmental control, can surely benefit from such technology. Algae farming technologies will allow the capture and recycling of CO2 from smokestacks, fermentations and geothermal gases. The beautiful part of this technology is that industrial facilities do not need large internal modifications to host an algae farm.

Algae can surely make an impact on many industrial companies. The algae technology has the potential to substantially effect companies' policies, making it more profitable not to pollute. http://growdieselevent.com/default.aspx

“Given the right conditions, algae can double its volume overnight. Unlike other biofuel feedstocks, such as soy or corn, it can be harvested day after day. Up to 50 percent of an alga’s body weight is comprised of oil, whereas oil-palm trees—currently the largest producer of oil to make biofuels—yield just about 20 percent of their weight in oil. Across the board, yields are already impressive: Soy produces some 50 gallons of oil per acre per year; canola, 150 gallons; and palm, 650 gallons. But algae is expected to produce 10,000 gallons per acre per year, and eventually even more.” http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4213775.html

Not only does algal biofuel have reduced CO2 output levels into the atmosphere when compared to petroleum based fuels, it can also be used to absorb CO2 output levels from coal and petroleum based industrial plants. Algae productivity is dependent on carbon intake, as carbon constitutes over 50% by weight of Algae Biomass. Algae can consume high concentrations of CO2 (between 5-30%) as it is emitted from power, cement and chemical plants before it is absorbed into the atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2, at less than 0.04%, needs to be supplemented with additional CO2 to deliver high productivities.

interesting facts about algae biofuels

When looking at all of the varieties of biofuel algal seems to be one of the most attractive options. One of the reasons is that algae can be harvested and grown on a day to day basis unlike corn or soy which take up to a year to produce. Also crops like corn and soy are very sensitive to the environment in contrast to algae. In addition the high lipid density in algae gives it a higher oil production potential then its competitors. It is predicted that up to 50% of algae's body weight can be used for bio disel. In addition 100% of algal biomass can also be used when producing fertilizer and cosmetics.

The military is really interested in algal as a fuel source for their equipment. Transporting rocket fuels to various corners of the globe can be costly that is why locally growing algal at various military posts seems much more attractive. They have actually created a biodisel energy plant at the Naval Base Ventura Country. Their is more information about this