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Report Says, Algal Biofuels May Not Cut Carbon Emissions 1

Algae- based biofuel production and carbon capture are the hot-topics of research all over the world. On the other hand, a new study published in American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science and Technology, suggests that the overall CO2 emissions to produce biofuel from algae may be worse than those from first and second generation biofuel feedstocks such as corn, canola (rape-seed) or switch grass.The report says though the algae-based biofuel production is advantageous than the above mentioned land-based crops when we grow algae in wastewater or near powerplants, algal fuels could cause an overall increase in carbon emissions when we grow them in freshwater(using additional nutrients and compressed CO2 source). On closer inspection, the report is in fact very positive about growing algae. Read positively, the data are only in opposition to making fuel from algae if nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients are added in their mineral forms, and if the CO2 has to be injected into the system (transported as a compressed gas) as made mainly by the process of steam reforming methane, along with most of the world's available hydrogen: (Overall) CH4 2H2O --> CO2 4H2. That H2 is used to make nitrogen (ammonium sulphate and nitrate) fertilizer by reacting it with N2 via the Haber Bosch process to make ammonia (NH3), and so there is in a way a symbiosis between the production of CO2 and NH3. The phosphorus would likely come from mining "rock phosphate", which requires energy too. The US Algal Biomass Organisation has claimed that the study contained "faulty assumptions" and was based on "grossly outdated data". Even if there remains some dispute over the exact figures used, what the study does highlight is the importance of developing an integrated paradigm of production and recycling for algal fuel production. Source: http://ergobalance.blogspot.com/2010/04/report-says-algal-biofuels-may-not-cut.html
Wed April 07 2010 03:24:05 AM by Mathumitha Algae oil  |  Wastewater treatment  |  CO2 capture 1211 views

Comments - 1

  • Minakshi wrote:
    Fri April 23 2010 06:15:38 AM

    As the algae are photosynthetic, they do not emit carbon dioxide. Instead if cultured and harvested properly, they are helpful in increasing oxygen content of water.

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