Relevance: a biofuel alternative to fossil fuels
As global fossil fuel supplies dwindle and atmospheric carbon concentrations rise, pressure is on to find viable biofuel alternatives to petroleum products. The European Parliament is calling for 10% of road transport fuel to come from renewable sources by 2020, making this an urgent challenge.
90% of the world’s biofuel production is currently bioethanol. Made largely from sugar cane and maize, it is used as a petrol additive. The remaining 10% of biofuel comes from plant oils such as rapeseed, soya and palm and is turned into biodiesel.
These “first generation” biofuels or agri-fuels are a long way from meeting the world’s need for energy security and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, terrestrial biofuel crops compete for land and freshwater with food production, forestry and conservation.
Algae are in theory an ideal alternative biofuel crop as they grow faster, require little maintenance and thrive in environments not used for agriculture or forestry.