Algae Biofuel Pros and Cons List
Scientists are working diligently to expand the uses and productivity of algae biofuels. The industry presents a green path toward a more independent and renewable energy source. Algae (technically microalgae) can be grown in a multitude of ecosystems that can typically not produce crops in either salt or fresh water. Algae production requires non-arable land, providing a new use for land that would otherwise serve little agricultural purpose.
Algae production also relies on the recycling of carbon dioxide and waste fuels. Carbon dioxide is a key ingredient for producing microalgae, removing the gas from the atmosphere and putting it into a new energy form. In this process, the carbon emissions are almost neutral, meaning that almost no more CO2 is in the atmosphere than before growing the algae (93% less than diesel).
List of Pros of Algae Biofuels
Short Production Time
Algae also has a relatively short production time, growing in several weeks, as opposed to biofuels such as petroleum that take many years to develop beneath the earth’s surface.
Is Easily Harvested
Scientists can effectively harvest algae biofuels presenting a new frontier of home-grown energy sources. Using this fuel could allow the United States to grow its own fuels as a crop.
Offers a New Low Emission Approach
Algae biofuels present an exciting new low-emission approach to future energy sources that with more time and research could potentially solve many of the current woes and worries of the energy sector.
List of Cons of Algae Biofuels
Loss of Non-Renewable Resources
Few long-term flaws exist in the production of algae biofuels. One component of harvesting algae is phosphorus, a non-renewable resource which is becoming scarce. If scientists do not find an alternative to phosphorus in production, the resource may well become very scarce within 100 years and raise prices.
Overhead is Expensive
Additionally, algae biofuels are still largely in a research state in that investing in them is still very expensive and provides very little monetary recompense. Initial capital is very expensive and the amount of energy reaped from the process is still quite underweight. Overhead is expensive, and the production facilities require a large amount of land.
Lacks Competition With Other Fuel Sources
Another noteworthy criticism of algae biofuel is that its properties simply may not be competitive with different fuel sources. The composition of algae biofuel is largely different than that of the standard fuels currently on the market.
Scientists are spending large sums of money on a technology that has as of yet not provided any very solid evidence that it will ever become comparable to the efficiency levels of our current fuels. Not enough research has been done on this new energy field to prove that we have found the definite fuel of the future. Many of these above cons are rectifiable through resolutions such as finding novel uses of land mass and recycling scarce resources in waste streams.