Algae’s potential to generate biofuel, food products and renewable chemicals via waste streams and/or sunlight has drawn attention from a broad spectrum of industries. Today, algae and algae-derived products are used in infant formula, nutrient supplements, food coloring, food additives, aquaculture and animal feed and more. Importantly, there are varying definitions of bio-oil: the oil and chemical industries want refining feedstock without phosphorus;
the food and nutraceutical industries want Omega 3 fatty acids and pigments like beta-carotene and lutein.
Algae-to-oil offers the promise of revitalizing previously-underutilized rural areas. As growing techniques improve, and by proving OpenAlgae distributed processing, we have the opportunity to utilize additional land, avoid food-for-fuel arguments, create non-urban jobs and promote individual community self-sufficiency via local supply of oil and biobased products.
“Biofuels made from microalgae hold the potential to solve many of the sustainability challenges facing other biofuels today.”
—U.S. Department of Energy
Algae: a Clear Choice
- Best oil yield, most valuable byproducts of any non-fossil source
- Can be grown in fresh, brackish, saltwater and wastewater
- Fastest path to biomass from sunlight
- Productive use of CO2
- Bypasses the “food or fuel” fight, unlike corn, soy, or palm
- Growing algae is a focus of major exploration companies
The combined production capacity of the world’s biodiesel refineries is currently about five billion gallons per year. To produce enough algae to make that amount of biodiesel would require 250,000 acres of algae — about half the size of the city of Houston. With yields as high as 20,000 gallons per acre per year, biodiesel from algae is a $25 billion opportunity.