In this century, scientists are engaged in the search for renewable fuel. One unexpected source may be algae – what you might see, for example, as pond scum.The starches in algae can be turned into ethanol, and algae’s lipids can ferment into biodiesel. What’s more, growing algae takes CO2, a greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere.
Jack Lewnard is vice–president of Process Development at GreenFuel Technologies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His company was recognized recently for developing experimental algae farms in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They used CO2 emissions to create renewable biodiesel and ethanol fuel.
Jack Lewnard: It’s basically converting sunlight into useful energy. Secondly, it has advantages in that it’s a fairly simple process because Mother Nature is doing most of the work for you. And it has a very good environmental footprint because we’re helping to both mitigate CO2 going into the atmosphere and addressing a critical issue for finding renewable sources of liquid transportation fuels.
According to Lewnard, algae has an advantage over other food crops grown for fuel – because it takes less land to grow. Now tests are needed to establish the economic viability of growing algae as a future fuel source.