Algae biofuel outperforms that derived from oil

A light aircraft running on fuel made from algae has not only flown successfully but demonstrated that it is a better fuel than that derived from fossil sources.

The EADS biofuel demonstrator is a Diamond DA42 New Generation powered by two Austro Engine AE300 engines.

Peter Lietz in charge of marketing, sales and after sales for Austro Engine, told us at the Farnborough Air Show that the only modification required to the engines was to reduce injection, because the biofuel has a higher energy content compared with the JET A1 used normally, resulting in a 1.5 litres per hour lower consumption. In addition, nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by up to 40% and sulphur oxides are only 10ppm instead of 600ppm.

The algae in this case were grown in photobioreactors by Biocombustibles del Chubut S.A. in Argentina and the fuel was refined by VTS Verfahrenstechnik Schwedt in Brandenburg, Germany. Each 100kg of algae biomass grown absorbs 180kg of carbon dioxide and yields 22 litres of oil which can be refined to 21 litres of fuel. The remaining 80kg of the biomass can be used for animal feed, fertilizer or burned to produce heat. The algae production does not compete with food production. They create 30 times more organic substance per unit cultivation area than, for example, rapeseed, and can be grown on poor quality land using non potable or salt water.

Author
Tom Shelley

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