With the rising demand for a sustainable fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in transportation, many researchers are turning to biofuels as a solution. Currently, the United States’ majorly commercialized biofuel is corn ethanol and has posed several problems, indicating it is not a promising alternative fuel source. Many scientists have begun focusing research on algal biofuels, looking to this photosynthetic plant as a solution. Algae can be grown in a variety of habitats, has a high production of oil for a small area of growth, and its land use has little to no competition with agriculture.
The goal of this research study is to analyze the aspects of implementing algal biofuels on a commercial level. It is to be determined whether algae fuels can realistically serve as the major source of fuel for the United States’ transportation needs. In order to provide realistic insight on the future of algal production, one must first determine if extraction of lipids from algae can be done in an energy efficient way in order for the process to be sustainable. If so, the environmental impacts of massive cultivation of algae must also prove to have little negative impacts on the environment, since it is not beneficial to bring rise to new environmental issues in solving others. Finally, algae biofuels must be produced in a cost effective way, providing a reasonable alternative to petroleum based fuels.
As environmentalists and scientists pursue research in the area of algal biofuels, a predominantly optimistic approach is often taken when looking at the fuel’s potential. While optimism is especially important when working to find a potential scientific breakthrough, it is difficult to portray an unbiased analysis of the specific topic. A realistic approach must be taken towards the analysis of algal biofuels to ensure the proper technological advancements are made to solve the United States’ energy crisis. Algal biofuels have the potential to solve the problems posed by corn ethanol, but more importantly, can the extraction of combustible oil from algae be utilized in an energy efficient, environmental, and economic way in order to replace the United States’ fossil fuel use for transportation?