Algae are microscopic organisms that exist in abundance. There are perhaps thousands of species of algae, many of which have yet to even be identified. Typically found at the surface of ponds, or other aquatic areas; algae are also often laden over moist terrestrial areas too. Seemingly miniscule and unimportant; it may come as a surprise that algae has definitely become a commodity of great interest as of late. Furthermore, it has actually been studied on an off for eighteen years by the government seeking to extract the many potentials of this plausible energy source.
New waves of awareness have forced innovators and scientists to scrutinize the plethora of natural possibilities we have at our fingertips. It comes as a sweet delight to find we haven’t overlooked even the smallest of possibilities. And this time it appears as it our findings will pay off. Algae is now being grown in facilities specifically built to harvest the biological energy in massive amounts. Whereas a pond covered with a surface layer of algae may only produce merely a few gallons of algae, some facilities are able to harvest around 100,000 gallons of algae! Some types of algae have up to 50% oil weight, which is great for converting into biodiesel fuel or perhaps jet fuel.
Algae was originally dismissed as an effective and fully competitive energy alternative years ago, due to the price per gallon necessitated in converting the plant into biofuel. That was back in 1996 when oil was only around $20.00 per barrel! Oil prices have since climbed dramatically and algae is back in the running to competitively become a biofuel replacement in the near future. Not only is algae one of the fast growing plants in the world, it is easy to produce with new technologies and patented facilities, such as Vertigro, a patented system used by Valcent Products in Texas that has innovatively designed a vertical farming structure to capitalize on the amount of algae produced per space needed. Algae, like other plants, only really need three components to grow and photosynthesize: water, sun, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Strategically developing an algae plant near other large manufacturing plants that emit high levels of CO2 will not only provide ample supplies to the growing algae, but it can sequester the carbon dioxide, eliminating such detrimental gases from contributing to global warming.
Converting algae oil into biodiesel uses the same process that turns vegetable oil and other animal-fats into biodiesel fuel. However, the space needed is far less, it can be farmed anywhere, and it is actually ideal to pair near carbon emitting factories. Though the cost is still in question, and research is still being executed to find the most ideal way to farm this energy force economically, algae is absolutely in the running to becoming a highly competitive, environmentally supreme biofuel.
Algae also offers health benefits, usually offered as a supplement called Spirulina. It has long accredited as a super food, and has always been held with great value. Now it has been given an entirely new role to play in aiding the optimum health of humans, which has ascended to a much larger scale. Being proven as a great way of combating global warming, it also has an awesome potential of being a completely commercially viable biofuel. Algae is not just a green little plant, it truly epitomizes the ideal of “being green.”