Algae Biodiesel: A Better Source of Energy

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For decades, oil has been regarded as the most efficient and effective sources of fuel. However, its nonrenewable nature and the profound fear of causing pollution due to carbon emissions has lead to the discovery of new fuel source; biofuel.
Algae Biodiesel - A Renewable Source of Energy
A series of experiments conducted on a number of bio-feed stocks has revealed algae as one of the most promising sources for biodiesel production. Algae have been traditionally regarded as simple plants that produce a large amount of oxygen. They are made up of eukaryotic cells, which help their reproduction.
All algae contain Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats and Nucleic Acids. These components vary in proportion with the type of algae. However, algae that contain more than 40 percent of fatty acids are found to be ideal for producing biodiesel.
Extraction of Oil from Algae
Algae are commonly grown in open ponds. Now they are also grown in closed pond system for extracting oil. When the algae are harvested, they pass through the process whereby the lipoid is extracted from the walls of the algae cells. The simple process used is the oil press, which can extract as large as 75 percentage of oil out of algae. Then the remaining pulp is mixed with cyclo-hexane, filtered and cleaned to extract the remaining of the oil.

Another method is the supercritical fluids method that helps extract oil from algae up to 100 percent. In this method, Carbon dioxide is used as a supercritical fluid. It is mixed with algae and heated so that it changes its composition to form a liquid or gas. Thus, when carbon dioxide is mixed with algae, it changes algae into oil.
The other method that is quite popular is using a centrifuge. A centrifuge is a device that not only helps extracting biofuel from the algae but also helps separate the chemicals contain in biodiesel. The biodiesel production process using a centrifuge requires several steps to be undertaken.
Preparing Feedstock - Here the algae are separated from its medium in order to extract oil.
Separating Transesterification Products - Biodiesel fuel combined with a glycerol should be refined to separate glycerol.
Washing - The centrifuge is used to wash of soap and glycerin in biodiesel.
Algae can be cultivated in open ponds since they need sunlight, carbon-dioxide and water. Their growth rates can be increased artificially by increasing the carbon dioxide content in them. However, cultivating them in closed structures called photo bioreactors can yield better results as the environment can be better controlled than in open ponds.

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