With all the complaints about corn being used for ethanol production and the emphasis on rapidly advancing cellulosic ethanol production processes, one other method for biofuel production has received considerably less attention with the agricultural industry. That is algae-based fuel production.
Even though those in agriculture don’t talk about algae as a source of fuel, there appears to be huge interest in algae as the source of renewable biofuel and much more. More than 800 scientists and stakeholders from around the world attended the Algae Biomass Summit last year, and attendance is anticipated to be larger at this year’s sixth annual conference in Denver, Colo., Sept. 24-27.
The summit will showcase, in its engineering and analysis track, nearly 30 presentations by leading research scientists from national and corporate laboratories. The sessions will inform technical audiences about the latest in algae growing methods, biofuel and oil analysis and other developments related to growing and harvesting algae for fuels, food, feed and more, explained the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) in announcing the summit.
ABO admits that advances in engineering are still key to wide-scale commercial production of algae-based products.
Top researchers in the world will be attending and presenting at the summit, said Phil Pienkos, principal group manager, Applied Sciences for the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and chair of the Algae Biomass Summit. "Combined with the incredible advances in algae biology, we're seeing significant opportunities to increase yields, while reducing energy and water requirements and maximizing co-product potential," he said.
In a broad claim of superiority for algae production, ABO included the following statement in its summit announcement: “Products made from algae are the natural solution to the energy, food, economic, and climate challenges facing the world today. Algae have the power to simultaneously put fuels in vehicles, recycle CO2, provide nutrition for animals and people and create jobs for millions of Americans.”