Could We Power The World With Algae?
Algae could, in fact, save the world. How? Well, they can be the best alternatives to fossil fuels out there. Now event though they don’t actually look it, algae are an important source of food for both freshwater and saltwater life alike. And there are over 100,000 species of them, almost all of which produce oxygen as a byproduct of their feeding habits.
The way they can be of use comes from the fact that they store their energy in the form of oils. And these oils can be turned into biofuels. To be fair, we’re already producing biofuels from other plants. But the problem here is that we need to grow these plants on land that would otherwise be used for something else, like agriculture, or even left alone to be wild habitat.
In any case, algae also need to be grown, but the good thing here is that the surface area is much smaller that for other land-based plants. Moreover, algae have a much higher oil content than these biofuel plants, making them anywhere from 10 to 100 times more efficient, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Furthermore, we would only use the oils from algae in order to make biofuels, so, the rest of them can be used for other purposes, like food, animal feed, medicine, fertilisers, and all sorts of other uses. We’re now entering the era of efficiency after all, and having something that is multi-purpose is always a plus, especially if it is used on this exact same scale.
When it comes to algae-based biofuels, they are even better from a caloric standpoint than even fossil fuels, and can replace gasoline, diesel and even kerosene – no problem. It is a renewable resource and it is non-polluting; what more do we want?
Well, when we say ‘non-pollutant’ we have to make something clear – all biofuels emit CO2. The difference between them and fossil fuels is that biofuels come from plants that used the CO2 in the atmosphere to grow in the first place. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, release CO2 that has been trapped in the ground for millions of years. So, while biofuels just recycle the CO2, fossil fuels add extra into the air.