Algae could yield 30 times more biofuel than soybeans, while cleaning the environment
August 15, 2008
Algae could be used as a biofuel while simultaneously cleaning up the environment, report researchers at the University of Virginia.
By feeding algae extra carbon dioxide — the principal greenhouse gas contributing to climate change — and organic material like sewage, environmental engineering professors Andres Clarens and Lisa Colosi believe they can boost algae oil yields to as much as 40 percent by weight, far in excess of what can be generated from soybeans.
“The main principle of industrial ecology is to try and use our waste products to produce something of value,” Colosi said.
Research partner Mark White, a finance professor, is helping the researchers evaluate the environmental and economic benefits of algae biofuel compared to soy-based biodiesel.
“Proving that the algae can thrive with increased inputs of either carbon dioxide or untreated sewage solids will confirm its industrial ecology possibilities — to help with wastewater treatment, where dealing with solids is one of the most expensive challenges, or to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, such as coal power-plant flue gas, which contains about 10 to 30 times as much carbon dioxide as normal air,” explained a statement from the University of Virginia.