CCRES Algae Project Q&A

 

 
 CCRES ALGAE
 
CCRES Algae Project
Q&A

See answers to common questions about growing algae for biofuel production.

    Algae’s potential
    What makes algae a better alternative fuel feedstock than cellulosic feedstocks, such as switchgrass or miscanthus?
    What transportation fuels can algae produce?
    How much fuel can algae produce?
    Where could this type of algae grow?
    What can you do with material derived from algae production not used for fuel?

    Economics
    How much would a gallon of algae-based transportation fuel cost if it were available at a service station today?
    What can accelerate the commercial availability of algae biofuel?

    Environment
    How will algae-based transportation fuels impact greenhouse gas emissions?
    Is the process capable of being replicated at the local level to increase energy efficiency and promote low-energy overhead?

    Security
    Can algae-based fuels be used in developing countries to help them bypass fossil fuel dependence?

 
CCRES ALGAE
Q: What makes algae a better alternative fuel feedstock than cellulosic feedstocks, such as switchgrass or miscanthus?

    A: Large-scale production of resource-intensive plants, like switchgrass or miscanthus, requires a substantial amount of fertile land, fresh water, and petroleum-based fertilizer to grow. The fuel derived is ethanol, a lower-energy fuel not compatible with the infrastructure now used to transport, refine, and deliver liquid fuels, like gasoline and diesel.

    Conversely, algae can produce hydrocarbons capable of being converted directly into actual gasoline or diesel fuel, which can be transported and delivered to market using the existing refinery infrastructure.

Q: What transportation fuels can algae produce?
    A: Algae produce a variety of fuel and fuel precursor molecules, including triglycerides and fatty acids that can be converted to biodiesel, as well as lipids and isoprenoids that can be directly converted to actual gasoline and traditional diesel fuel. Algae can also be used to produce hydrogen or biomass, which can then be digested into methane.

Q: How much fuel can algae produce?

    A: The United States consumes 140 billion gallons per year of liquid fuel. Algae can produce 3,000 gallons of liquid fuel per acre in a year, so it would take 45 million acres of algae to provide 100% of our liquid fuel requirements.

    For comparison, in 2008 the United States had 90 million acres of corn and 67 million acres of soybeans in production. So growing 45 million acres of algae, while challenging, is certainly possible.

Q: Where could this type of algae grow?

    A: Algae perform best under consistent warm temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees. Climates with plenty of sunshine offer optimal conditions. Ideal Croatian locations include many of the southern and southwestern areas, such as Dalmatia,(including Dalmatian hinterland ).

CCRES ALGAE
 
Q: What can you do with material derived from algae production not used for fuel?

    A: Production of 140 billion gallons of fuel from algae would also yield about 1 trillion pounds of protein. Since algae-produced protein is very high quality, this protein could be used to feed livestock, chicken, or fish. Presently, all livestock in this country consume about 770 billion pounds of protein per year.

Q: How much would a gallon of algae-based transportation fuel cost if it were available at a service station today?

    A: Today, the cost would be relatively expensive. Additional investment in research is needed to further refine and enhance the algae strains that generate such fuels. Also, more infrastructure needs to be developed to achieve the necessary economies of scale that will come with large-scale commercial production. Once overall efficiency increases, the cost of producing a gallon of gasoline from algae will dramatically reduce.

Q: What can accelerate the commercial availability of algae biofuel?

    A: As viable and potentially transformational as algae-based transportation fuels have already proven, we need a much better knowledge base on algae at the microbial level. We also need to build on this platform to develop the tools and train the next generation of scientists that will help usher in the age of accessible, affordable, and sustainable fuels made from algae. That is a central component of the Croatian Center for Algae Biofuels (CCRES Algae Project).

CCRES ALGAE
Q: How will algae-based transportation fuels impact greenhouse gas emissions?

    A: Production of alternative transportation fuels from algae will help reduce the amount of CO2 in the environment. Algae provide a carbon-neutral fuel because they consume more CO2 than is ultimately released into the atmosphere when algae-based fuel burns. The amount of carbon removed from the environment will depend on the number of algae farms built and the efficiency with which algae can be modified to convert CO2 to fuel products. Eventually, algae farms will likely be located adjacent to CO2 producing facilities, like power plants, resulting in potentially significant CO2 sequestration benefits.

Q: Is the process capable of being replicated at the local level to increase energy efficiency and promote low-energy overhead?

    A: Absolutely. There are huge advantages to locating algae farms near urban centers. The algae consume industrial waste and contaminants, which are usually found in higher concentrations near cities. A perfect location is near a power plant, where the algae can consume flue gas and other waste, or near a wastewater treatment plant where the algae could consume significant amounts of nitrates and phosphates from the waste stream. This could result in cleaner effluent discharge, and perhaps eventually create “new” sources of non-potable water for industrial or agricultural use.

Q: Could algae-based fuels be used in developing countries to help them bypass fossil fuel dependence?

    A: Algae-based fuels (and the protein byproducts derived from their production) definitely have the potential to positively impact developing countries. The requirements for farming algae are fairly straightforward and can be done almost anywhere in the world with an adequate supply of sunshine. In Africa, for example, millions of algae acres could be farmed in its less-populated regions, resulting in a reduced dependence on foreign oil and a reliable and sustainable energy supply.

 
 
 
CCRES ALGAE PROJECT
part of 
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

About CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES

CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)• was founded in 1988 as the non-profit European Association for Renewable Energy that conducts its work independently of political parties, institutions, commercial enterprises and interest groups, • is dedicated to the cause of completely substituting for nuclear and fossil energy through renewable energy, • regards solar energy supply as essential to preserve the natural resources and a prerequisite for a sustainable economy,• acts to change conventional political priorities and common infrastructures in favor of renewable energy, from the local to the international level, • brings together expertise from the fields of politics, economy, science, and culture to promote the entry of solar energy, • provides the opportunity to play a part in the sociocultural movement for renewable energy by joining the association for everyone, • considers full renewable energy supply a momentous and visionary goal - the challenge of the century to humanity. CCRES Željko Serdar Head of association solarserdar@gmail.com
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One Response to CCRES Algae Project Q&A

  1. Despite great advances in the energy generation, human industry continues to rely largely on fossil fuels as the main source of its everyday energy requirements. While electricity can be generated with clean energy sources like wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy, it cannot be effectively used to power large industrial systems or most means of transportation, such as ships, trains, or trucks. Indeed, some, like air travel, seem likely to remain entirely outside the realm of these renewable energy sources for the foreseeable future; planes do not fly on electricity. Furthermore, electricity cannot be stored efficiently for future use, it must be used as it is generated. Most industrial processes consume large amounts of energy or generate extremely high temperatures and require an inexpensive fuel source with a high energy content to operate efficiently; thus, fossil fuels were the best alternative for powering these systems, until now.

    It is also well known that the main disadvantages to the extensive use of fossil fuels are the continued emissions of GHGs generated when they burn and the depletion of worldwide fossil fuel reserves due to their non-renewable nature. Algae is a viable alternative that eliminates these problems while providing enough energy to power large scale industrial processes and means of transportation. By generating algae the carbon cycle is completed and the oxygen consumed during combustion is replaced, helping to restore the atmospheric gas balance that is upset by the continued use of fossil fuels. Algae can also be stored and transported for future use at a different location, and can be continuously and sustainably produced.

    Algal biomass can produce the same amount of energy as the equivalent amount of coal, and can be refined to produce higher grade fuels such as diesel and ethanol among others. Implementing Algae Production Systems in a large scale can provide enough energy to replace fossil fuels used in most industrial processes and means of transportation, which account for the vast majority of GHG emissions. Algae is the only fuel alternative that is renewable, clean, portable and can be produced industrially with high yields to offset and reverse the negative effects of fossil fuels on the environment. CCRES ALGAE TEAM

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