Kengo Suzuki, who is the Head of R & D of the algae fuel start-up by the name Euglena, located in the premises of Tokyo University, is working on the microalgae Euglena, to check the possibility of using it as a key source of fuel for powering jet planes in future. He has also made it a nutritious addition to pasta sauce and food bars. Suzuki was one of the key persons who set up Euglena in 2005.
According to Suzuki, Euglena has the capacity to produce more than 10 times as much oil as palm, per unit area and oil from the algae can also be processed easily into jet fuel. He adds that the lipid molecule in Euglena has a unique structure that makes it possible to convert into jet fuel. But Suzuki is of the opinion that the cost of producing jet fuel from Euglena is very high as of now, which is a major hurdle in the process. The company hopes to produce jet fuels from Euglena on a commercial scale by 2018.
The start-up works close with two major firms Nippon Oil Corp. and Hitachi Plant Technologies, as the companies have the know-how to grow Euglena on a large scale and to process the oil from the algae into jet fuel.
As experts say, the real focus should now be on reducing the cost of production, thereby making jet fuel from algae commercially viable.
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