How Algae Biodiesel Works

Pretty, isn't it? Although this looks like abstract art, this stuff could be fueling our cars and airplanes in the near future. See more green science pictures.
Photo courtesy: U.S. Department of Energy

The race is on for a new form of fuel. With gasoline skyrocketing to more than $4 a gallon in 2008, dependence on imported oil and depleting resources worldwide, finding alternatives to petroleum-based fuel and fuel-related products is urgent. Fortunately, scientists have been studying the production of alternative products to make a cleaner, greener fuel for years.

It's possible that we may be using one of these alternative fuels in the near future. Alga (or its plural, algae) may be the miracle element in the search for a more environmentally-friendly, mass-produced product that can be converted into fuel. Algae grow naturally all over the world. Under optimal conditions, it can be grown in massive, almost limitless, amounts. Did you know that half of algae's composition, by weight, is lipid oil? Scientists have been studying this oil for decades to convert it into algae biodiesel -- a fuel that burns cleaner and more efficiently than petroleum.


You may be wondering exactly how this slimy green stuff can be turned into a fuel for cars and airplanes, and even for the heaters that warm our homes and schools. Let's find out more about what makes biodiesel from algae so exciting.