Algae Biofuels – An Alternative Solution
As global energy demand continues to rise, the development of alternative energy, such as algae biofuels, has started to expand. Increasing concerns tied to greenhouse gasses and a push for sustainable fuel sources has prompted large players to invest in environmentally friendly alternatives. ExxonMobil plans to invest in excess of $600 million into the development of algae biofuel technologies and projects. In 2009, ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) opened a green house facility to further algae biofuel research initiatives.
Advocates of algae biofuels stress that bio-oils can be manufactured to provide diesel fuel, jet fuel, and gasoline. Roughly half of algae’s body weight is comprised of oil. In comparison to other biofuel sources, such as sugar cane, corn, and soy, algae has the potential to produce roughly 2000 gallons of fuel per acre in one year of production.
According to Emil Jacobs, ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Research and Development, “We spent two years evaluating all kinds of biofuels, assessing their scalability, technical challenges, environmental impact and commercial viability…Algae had the best potential.”
Companies such as SGI, Solix Biofuels, and Solazyme Inc. are leading the way to create technologies to expand the development of algae biofuels. The global energy mix is in need of a viable alternative energy solution, and the continued research of possible resources is of necessity. Finding a definitive substitute for fossil fuels is a challenging endeavor, but the potential of algae biofuels shows promise.