Green Thoughts: Algae takes biofuels further

Some algae produce energy as natural oils, which scientist are looking into producing into biofuels for cars and other automobiles.

Some algae produce energy as natural oils, which scientists are looking into producing into biofuels for cars and other automobiles. (Photo obtained)

James Walls
Campus News Editor

Ever since man first created fire there has been bioenergy. From the days when man merely burned biomass (recent living organisms) directly into energy, to the modern addition of new biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel which requires the biomass to be processed into fuel, mankind has utilized nature to some extent. And now, Energy Department scientists are using algae to take biofuels even further.

Previous plans for biofuel
According to an article on National Geographic’s website, Henry Ford had originally intended for his Model T to run on ethanol. However, due to large deposits of petroleum, which are essentially ancient forms of biomass, gasoline remained cheap for years and other biofuels were almost forgotten.

Today, things are much different. Gasoline is no longer as affordable as it once was, and with the threat of global warming evident an alternative to basic fossil-fuels is greatly needed. That is why scientists are looking into producing clean, renewable energy from algae.

Using algae as biomass
According to an article on, some algae produce energy as natural oils that can then be extracted and produced into biofuels for cars, planes and other vehicles. Also, these algae-based biofuels are expected to produce 60 times more oil per acre than land-based plants, meaning that a larger amount of this cleaner, non-polluting fuel source could be produced in less space.

However, algae production plants could also be helpful to the environment. After all, since algae, like plants, require carbon dioxide to live, they would lessen these emissions by taking them in through photosynthesis before they could add to global warming.

For more information about the process of converting algae into biofuels, watch the video at

Unfortunately, these algae-based biofuels are still in the experimental stage, but look like a strong addition to our future. So remember, just like the scientists at the Energy Department have proven, it’s not too late to think green.