Some of the most diverse organisms on the planet, algae seem to creep up in any area that's damp, moist, warm and wet, including marshes, ponds, rocks and rivers. Certain forms even live on animals like turtles which go back and forth from water to land.
The Pros and Cons of Algae Biodiesel
It all sounds perfect, right? An abundant, plantlike material is grown, squeezed, chemically altered and blended into a cleaner, efficient biodiesel. It may sound ideal, but there are some cons, the critics of algae biodiesel like to point out.
For one, open pond growing is extremely risky -- the water has to be an exact temperature. Carbon dioxide has to be pumped into the ponds, and there is a high risk of contamination. However, many algae biodiesel labs are solving this problem by using the closed bioreactor system to counteract these issues.
Another problem is that there hasn't been any real testing done with yet algae biodiesel and actual cars. Companies worldwide are making big deals with large oil companies to test and produce the pond scum. Right now, they're still in the test phases. As far as we know, there's just one algae biodiesel car on the streets. In January 2008, a company used algae biodiesel to fuel a Mercedes Benz E320 diesel to cruise the streets of Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. However, no statistics were released on the car's gas mileage or what kind of emissions it produced.
Whatever happens, the search for a better fuel is exciting. For now, we'll probably be reading about algae biodiesel development instead of driving cars containing this unique product.
See these great links to get lots more information on algae biodiesel.