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Algal Biofuel: Still Not A Common Man’s Fuel?

Aradhana Das, R. Sahoo, E. Subudhi
Published 2019 · Environmental Science

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The rapid lifestyle of industrialization and increasing demand of fossil oil that are going to be scarce in future date have led to think the alternative source of renewable energy as fuels to meet our energy demands. Fossil fuel is challenged with increasing price and a decreasing quantity, and burning of the fuels is putting the environment into threat toward pollution and global warming. Various steps toward cultivating oil crops such as Jatropha, corn, coconut, soybean, and oil palm have been encouraged, but productivity of oil has been very less, i.e., 5% of total biomass, and it needs vast acres of cultivated land. Therefore, to overcome the problem, today’s world is moving toward microalgae cultivation, which in comparison can grow faster in wastelands/uncultivated lands and can produce up to 80% of the dry weight of algae biomass. Microalgae are phototrophic and are able to transform carbon dioxide into biofuels, valuable bioactive compounds, foods, and feeds. In spite of all positivity, microalgae biofuel is still not common man’s fuel due to various hurdles. Overhead harvesting cost is 20–30% higher to the cultivation cost of algae; it can reduce the nonrenewable resources (nitrogen, phosphorus) for which still date it cannot reach to common man. However, limited supply of these renewable oils and high cost stop it to be a potential challenger in the face of other petroleum-based fuels. Overall, economic feasibility and environmental suitability cannot be forgotten when venturing into scaling up for future commercialization.
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