ABO supports algae biofuels sustainability report

By Luke Geiver | October 24, 2012

The Algae Biomass Organization has responded to the recently released National Research Council report on the sustainability of algae-based biofuel, applauding the report’s findings that any current concerns over sustainability as it relates to algal biofuel production, “are not a barrier to future growth.”

In the report, the NRC points to five areas of concern that present sustainability challenges for producers: water consumption, land use, nutrient consumption, energy return on investment and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In its response to the report, the ABO offered perspective on each area of concern. “The good news is that these [concerns] are already being addressed by algal fuel producers and researchers,” the ABO said.

For water, the ABO pointed to a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory report that showed saline water aquifers would allow for the production of roughly 40 billion sustainably produced gallons. On the issue of nutrients, the ABO highlighted more research by PNNL that shows if nutrients are recycled the amount required for cultivation is dramatically reduced. Nitrogen would be reduced by nearly 98 percent and phosphorus by 40 percent. PNNL has also recognized 89,000 suitable sites for open-pond algae cultivation sites.

The issue of energy return on investment (EROI) is already being addressed, according the ABO. The recommended EROI in the report was roughly three units of energy produced from the algae biofuel, per unit of energy put into the production of the biofuel, and the ABO said companies are already achieving that measure by recycling nutrients, producing biomethane from residual organics and using production designs to minimize energy use.

Lastly, on the issue of GHG emissions, the ABO pointed to the categorization of algae-based biodiesel by the EPA, a classification that shows the fuel qualifies as an advanced biofuel and reduces GHG’s by 50 percent. With more than 150 companies and roughly 60 labs working on algae-based bioenergy production, the ABO said that it hopes policymakers “will recognize the NRC’s conclusions that sustainability concerns are not a definitive barrier to future growth.”

During the 2012 Algae Biomass Summit, Jennie Hunter-Cevera of Hunter & Associates, a member of the committee that authored the report, spoke about the committee’s work prior to its release. “It’s never trivial when you focus on the words sustainability and environmental impact,” she said.








1 Responses

  1. anonymous



    DOE BIOMASS PROGRAM AND ALGAE RESEARCHERS ARE BEING INVESTIGATED BY IG's DEPT. Solydra story is opening a huge can of worms at the DOE GRANT AND LOAN GURANTEE LOAN PROGRAM. Its not just about the Solar loan guarantee program. Look at all the millions in fees collected by the DOE GRANT AND LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM with algae projects less than 20% completed. Investigations are going on all DOE Biomass Program Grants to algae researchers. The US taxpayer has spent over $2.5 billion dollars over the last 50 years on algae research. To date, nothing has been commercialized by any algae researcher. The REAL question is: Does the DOE BIOMASS PROGRAM really want the US off of foreign oil or do they want to continue funding more grants for algae research to keep algae researchers employed at universities for another 50 years? In business, you are not given 50 years to research anything. The problem is in the Congressional Mandate that says the DOE can only use taxpayer monies on algae research, NOT algae production in the US. So far, algae research has not got the US off of foreign oil for the last 50 years! A Concerned Taxpayer


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