By Jen Alic, oilprice.com:
As the fuel versus food debate intensifies, Oilprice.com takes a look at the top four advanced, non-food biofuels that may have a long-term potential to become commercially, and hopefully environmentally, viable. The production of advanced biofuels was up this year by some 437 gallons over last year, but economic challenges remain formidable and technology will be the key to unlocking potential. Perhaps things are so great right now for the advanced biofuels industry, but it will take time and patience to figure out how to appease both the market and Mother Nature.
Algae: Growing on Us
Algae produces some carbon dioxide when burned, but it takes the same carbon dioxide in to grow. So when algae farms grow massive quantities to be turned into biofuels, the end result is that they actually suck greenhouse gas out of the air. It also has other advantages over biofuels from corn or soybeans, in that it does not require soil or fresh water to grow. It also has the potential to produce more energy per hectare than any land crop.
Currently, the high cost of capital and operations limit bio-based materials and chemicals to a few facilities located where corn and cane are plentiful and cheap. Algae can change that and recent technological advances are promising… Read more