Ocean algae could be rich source of bio-fuels: study

June 29th, 2008 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Kansas State University

Washington, June 29 (IANS) Two Kansas State University scientists are taking the initiative to cultivate oil-rich algae in oceans for bio-fuel. Certain species of algae high in oil content could be converted into such fuels as bio-diesel, according to Zhijian Pei and Wenqiao Yuan.

Algae also have several eco-friendly advantages over corn or other plants used for bio-fuels, including requiring no oil or water to grow.

The duo plans to identify attributes of algae and properties of materials that enable growth of certain algae species on solid carriers. Solid carriers float on the water surface for algae to attach to and grow on.

“Not all materials are equally suitable to make these carriers,” Yuan said. “Some materials are better for algal attachment and growth than others, and we will be identifying what those ‘good’ materials are.”

The project could help with the design of major equipment for manufacturing algae bio-fuels from the ocean, including solid carriers, in-the-ocean algae harvesting equipment and oil extraction machines, Pei said.

“This research aims to develop a cost-effective process for growing algae on solid carriers in the ocean for bio-fuel manufacturing,” he said. “If successful, it will greatly benefit the energy security of the US, as well as society in general.”

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