Algae emerges as promising alternative to fossil fuels

London, Jan 11 (IANS) Microalgae is emerging as a promising alternative to fossil fuels whose consumption is worsening atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Johannes A. Lercher and his team at the Technische Universitaet, Munich, Germany, have come up with a new catalytic process, zeolite HBeta, that effectively converts bio-petroleum from microalgae into diesel fuels.

Says Lercher: ‘The products are diesel-range saturated hydrocarbons that are suitable for use as high-grade fuels for vehicles.’

Previously known methods for refining oil from microalgae suffer from various disadvantages. The resulting fuel either has too high an oxygen content and poor flow at low temperatures, or a sulphur-containing catalyst may contaminate the product.

Microalgae are individual cells or short chains of cells from algae freely moving through water. They occur in nearly any pool of water and can readily be cultivated.

‘They have a number of advantages over oil-containing agricultural products(such as soybean and rapeseed),’ explains Lercher.