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Algal biofuel commercialization is probably a decade away?

February 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

There is a growing interest in algae biofuel in recent years and algae can be said to hold the future for biofuel industry. They have several advantages over other biofuels- high yield from fewer resources, limited land requirements, carbon capture utilities and ease of manipulation and optimization of growth conditions, abundant strain availability etc.

Many experts feel that the technology for mass-production is still a decade away due to many challenges faced in its commercialization. There was an uncertain scenario in 2010, surrounding the biodiesel tax credit and the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard-2. The recent exit of Shell from the algae biofuel  further lowered the morale of the industry.

2011 has brought with it a wave of optimism. “The EPA has said that they are going to enforce the 800 million gallon volume RFS2 requirement” said Joe Jobe, Chairman of the National Biofuels Board, speaking  to Biodiesel magazine at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, being held at Phoenix, Arizona, “and we will have the tax credit in place.” The conference is an event that gathers biodiesel decision-makers from across the United States and the world. Rees, president of Gilbert-based Rev Biofuels has supplemented his views and so has Bruce Rittman, director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute. Jobe described the combination as a powerful policy framework and predicted that 2011 would be the biggest year yet for US biodiesel sales. There is more good news on the vehicle front with three big American automakers implementing B20 compatibility in their automobiles.

With Vinod Khosla predicting a bleak future for plant oil based biodiesel due to feedstock issues, there is no doubt that algae are here to stay and would continue to excite widespread interest and investment in the coming years.

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