Biological Insights to Create Energy from Algae

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Algae biofuel

High energy prices remain a prevalent public policy problem for governments. U.S. oil prices on Monday remained nearly $10 a barrel above last year’s record average, and many analysts have cited skyrocketing prices at a deterrent to a robust economic recovery. Alternatives such as fracking and drawing from existing oil reserves have been gaining traction, but neither processes provide long-term solutions for the world’s hunger for energy.

Online Biology Degree notes that,“in the present era, biology has emerged as the frontrunner of solutions to many of the problems facing the world. Biology degrees today are preparing graduates with the skills needed not only to understand how biological ecosystems work in textbooks, but also the knowledge and creativity to fix the 21st century’s problems.”

An example of this is the use of algae as an efficient form of biofuel. According to an article from Good, when deprived of sunlight or nutrients, algae produces an oil that’s chemically similar to petroleum. Given that it’s one of the fastest growing species of plants worldwide, there’s a huge potential for extracting energy from these plants.

In some cases, algal strains can double in volume overnight, marking a significant return on investment once kinks are worked out by researchers. Unfortunately, the process is still in its infancy; the Department of Energy estimates its cost at $8 to $25 per gallon due to growing, harvesting, and draining costs.

In addition to being a potential source of energy, a recent study of algal biofuels assessed that algal biofuels almost halved the greenhouse emissions than diesel fuels. In a world where our continued hunger for energy seems to contribute to prevalent problems such as climate change, lower greenhouse emissions are just as important a discovery as finding new sources of energy.

Related:   Our Next Best BioFuel is at the Bottom of a Pond
Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education to technology to public policy, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.