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Is Algae Worse than Corn for Biofuels?

Who can comment this? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=algae-biofuel-growth-environmental-impact


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24 Answers

  1. donmichael 6 years ago #

    "Algae production consumes more energy, has higher greenhouse gas emissions and uses more water than other biofuel sources, like corn, switch grass and canola, Clarens and his colleagues found by using a statistical model to compare growth data of algae with conventional crops."

    This article is not only bias but outdated.

    1) Algae requires more energy than corn??? Um yea but also produces way more fuel product and byproducts. Corn yields about 55 gallons of fuel per acre per year where as algae can yield from five to fifty thousand gallons of fuel per acre per year depending on the algae strain the type of fuel being processed and the technological methods being employed.

    2) Algae has higher greenhouse gasses than corn??? Of course it does but does corn have the capacity to consume all the CO2 emitted from coal firing plants and other big polluters?? Not to mention that algae can feed of the co2 that it emits for continuous independent production.

    3) it uses more water? Yes it does but corn uses more land and that is way more important considering that algae can be harvested next to bodies of water just like oil refineries and coal firing plants which gives growers the ability to filter these water sources. Clean the air clean the water.

    They also use the method of growing algae in ponds which is less efficient than closed systems.

    Don't pay any attention to anything about algae prior to the 2011. The technology is rapidly evolving thanks to all the governmental monetary incentives to conduct research and development projects.

  2. kyzyl 6 years ago #

    it is very hard to believe in the latter . If it possible, do a favour, give the link or references to the data of changing, please.

  3. rcollins 6 years ago #


  4. rcollins 6 years ago #



























    Joyce Yang, Technology Manager at U.S. Department of Energy




    Subject to annual appropriations, USDA plans to invest up to $25 million with DOE contributing up to $5 million for this year’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative. This funding is expected to support five to ten projects over three to four years. A description of the solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the FedConnect website and the Grants.gov website under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000510. Pre-applications are due on May 31, 2011 and must be submitted electronically. It is anticipated that applicants who are encouraged to submit full applications will be notified by August 3, 2011.

    Study addresses sustainability of algae biodiesel


    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1629419/vertigro_creates_fuel_from_algae/ vertigrow



















    #Coal Types
    Type of Coal
    * For selected samples of coal types. Numbers may not cover the compete range of sulfur contained in a given type of coal.

    Adapted from U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric, and Alternative Fuels. Coal Data: A Reference: Washington, D.C. 1995.














  5. rcollins 6 years ago #

    This is only a small part of the research I have done on algae, and algae systems. This does not include the experiments I have ran myself "small scale" at my home.

  6. rcollins 6 years ago #

    Here is some more research on the subject.

  7. narsi 6 years ago #

    The article is quite shallow in its analysis, and at times, quite amusing!

    But one point they make is interesting and worth debating...

    "If you grow corn, you rotate the field with soybeans so you get nitrogen fixation," Clarens said. "You still have to fertilize a lot, but if you're growing algae ... all that fertilizer has to come from you, and the fertilizing demands are much higher."

    Do you folks think there is any merit in this logic?

  8. rcollins 6 years ago #


  9. rcollins 6 years ago #

    I have read a similar article some years ago, I do not remember the details, but it turned out the researcher was affiliated with the corn grower association. the idea was that it was better to grow corn for fuel rather than algae.

  10. larryhagedon 6 years ago #

    This study is long outdated, and seems to carry some questionable conclusions, questionable even for January 2010.

  11. annasternfeldt 6 years ago #

    This was really strange statements...comparing algae with corn... corn needs fertile land!! The most important unethical condition for making biofuel, which we should never allow. This is the huge advantage with algae and which makes it really whortwhile to overcome whatever obstacles there are.
    Sure, good to use legumes for nitrogen fixation, which of course all corn producers (for food!) should do, but they don't, instead the runoffs from fertilizers causes a lot of bad impacts on the ecosystems.
    Water, which algae actually don't need, if we use and develop the advantages that are possible, using salt water and waste water, which deliver the water and nutrion needed. The ultimate goal is to be able to produce algae directly in their own environment, the sea, when the technologies with "beds" and "mats", or whatever we will call them, are being properly developed and made economically viable.
    Thanks rcollins for all the links, which I will look into when the time allows.

  12. donmichael 6 years ago #

    One additional comment about fertilizers. Algae may need more nutrients than corn but this is simply because algae has a higher growth rates and higher lipid and starch yeilds. So the extra nutrients needed are paid for ten fold not to mention that flu gasses from most carbon dioxide sources provide nitrogen. Carbon dioxide, phosphorus and nitrogen are really the only fertilzers needed to grow algae and there are plenty of relatively inexpensive compared to the products yeilds of algae

  13. narsi 6 years ago #

    @donmichael - I think that is a cool point - these algae critters grow much faster (produce more biomass) than corn, so obviously they will need more fertilisers for the same time period.

    I think what intrigued me was the nitrogen fixation part mentioned in the article. Essentially, they are saying that while the plants grow on land, some bacteria are able to add additional inputs which they wont be able to do in water. Or, at least that was what I understood...not sure how important this incremental benefit is, but my question is whether the benefit exists at all, or whether any "equivalent" of nitrogen fixing could be happening in water as well...

  14. jbenfield 6 years ago #

    One of the opportunities that I've always wondered about was the possibility of cultivating fuel strains in the high phosphorous/nitrogen cesspools/lagoons of hog farms. You *want* increased nitrogen fixation and it would essentially solve multiple problems at once (assuming that the viable strains could become dominant and be harvested cleanly). That's not something that you could do with other fuel sources. (at least not without processing and transporting that waste)

  15. larryhagedon 6 years ago #

    This whole premise is absurd.

    Corn is a perfect bio feedstock from which thousands of products are produced. Thousands more products are under development.

    To say we should only grow corn for food is absurd. We grow and use corn for thousands of products now and the list grows longer daily. No reason not to. We have the capacity to vastly increase our corn crop as we can develop new uses and markets for it.

    In the US, we always carry a surplus of unsold corn over to the the next harvest. Always.

    Algae is another perfect feedstock from which thousands of products can and will be produced, and these products are being developed today.

    We will use both feedstocks. No reason not to.

    Neither process uses up water, Both processes borrow water for a time, then send it on to the next user.

    Water is never used up.

    Sometimes aquifiers filled with fossil water are exhausted, but the water just goes elsewhere, Water becomes polluted, but algae and other natural purification processes make it clean and sweet again. Billions of gallons of surplus water flow down our rivers to the oceans every day and it is endlessly recycled as clean, desalinated rain .

    Fertilizer is also never really used up. It is simply passed on. Sometimes we have to re-process it to get the right chemicals to combine again. We can never exhaust our fertilizer supply as it is always. endlessly, recyclable. Those folks saying we are running out of fertilizer do not understand the nature of fertilizer. Our bigger problem is to keep from burying ourselves in the stuff.

    Historically we have mined much of our fertilizers from fossil sources. Our unintended consequences of our actions are that we have removed billions of tons of fertilizers/pollutants from their fossil reservoirs and put them back in circulation on our planet. .

    We are now using these fossil sources up, but we are also now learning how to recover that same fertilizer from the bio carriers.

    Algae is a great bio carrier, and being a water plant, is also great at capturing its own fertilizer from waste streams like sewage and manures and river water. Then we can process the fertilizers out of the algae and use it to grow food and other bio feedstocks.

    As we increase algae production, more and more fertilizer/pollutants will be captured in the algae.

    With billions of tons more algae growing world wide, millions of tons more pollutants will be temporarily removed from our water and held in the algae. Our rivers, lakes and oceans world wide will be made cleaner in the process.

    Same thing happens with corn. While the corn is growing and in storage, the fertilizer/pollutants remain sequestered in the corn. If we did not grow the corn,the pollutants/fertilizers will still be in the environment. Some will still be in the fossil form and some will be found in the black loam topsoil and the growing grasses, trees and weeds, and some of it in our water.

  16. kyzyl 6 years ago #

    @larryhagedon, I can't share your optimism. We are living in 86% of shortage of water. Industry and agriculture have eaten and polluted water. Add to this "smart" population's activity.
    The Planet cannot purify itself. Do you know about it?
    The lack of water is a fact and the shortage of water is enhancing under pressure of the grain's famine (protein's starvation has already come).

  17. larryhagedon 6 years ago #

    Millions of gallons of surplus water flow past my front door every day. Some of It will be used and re-used many times over while flowing down stream. It eventually finds its way to the ocean.

    We will next see it as sweet, pure rain, purified by nature, falling on the fields and steams as it replenishes our aqufiers, nourishes our crops, fills our lakes and rivers and gradually makes its way back to the ocean in an endless cycle of use and reuse and natural purification for yet more use.

    Of course our planet purifies itself, naturally and massively. This purification is accomplished by many means; bacteria, green plants and sunlight are some of the principle means of natural purification that we are aware of.

    It is possible to overpopulate an area, when folks do not understand how to utilize the resources of food and water available to them. With modern bio technology, we can produce plenty of food and clean, sweet pure water for many times as many people as are now on the earth.

    Many people are starving because of war or political stupidity, but it is not a world wide shortage of food and pure drinking water. We have plenty now, world wide, and we can produce massvely larger quantities of both.

    Biotechnology can make vast amounts of food and clean, pure water to folks that do not now have acess to enough of it. If the local politics allows it, any small village utilizing bio technology can grow their own food and purify their own water on a village scale. They need to be taught how to do it.

    The oceans are also an endless source of food and pure, sweet water; produced by bio technologies. Thousands of companies are now working on the technologies and infrastructure to utilize this massive resource. Ocean grown green algae is a source for massive quantities of high protein food additive that will be sold like flour to provide protein in bread, cakes, and prepared foods of all kinds.

    Wars and politcal stupidity will still block local production and distribution.

  18. kyzyl 6 years ago #

    larryhagedon you are the greatest optimist. It is a pity that our optimism cannot share WWF, UN, other organization, Also your optimism cannot share Dr. Commoner. Read his laws, please.People are killing our planet, even you will assert opposite. Let me ask you. Do you use a car?

  19. rahaase 6 years ago #

    This is another article that uses spin instead of fact and science to push an agenda.

    To the extent that they are connected is to the extent that we will all have to wait for fact and science to previal.

  20. kyzyl 6 years ago #

    Thank you.
    I've understood. There are two positions. One, including CleanTick, is "algae side" another - is opposite to biofuel in principle and these principles, may be feeds by traditional fuels "minds" We can stop this discussion.
    Thank you once more.

  21. georgeonik 6 years ago #

    Who paid for this study? the corn lobby?

  22. stephenhynes 6 years ago #

    Interesting to see who the comments came from and how he received recognition, sometimes there are advantages to taking the opposite viewpoint

    Assistant Professor Andres F. Clarens received a 2010 U.Va. FEST Distinguished Young Investigator Award, given to the University’s most promising young faculty in engineering and science. He also received a Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society — Petroleum Research Fund,

  23. larryhagedon 6 years ago #

    What an odd question.

    This implies that corn is somehow bad for us as a biofuel feedstock. In fact, as good stewards of the bounty of earth, it is incumbent upon us all to utilize our bounty of corn and algae to derive the maximum good from both, for the benefit of all.

    Both corn and algae are tremendous blessing to earths people, and can and must be used for the good of mankind.

    It would be criminal of us to attempt to limit the use of gods bounty by anyone.

  24. larryhagedon 6 years ago #

    In response to Kyzyl, in a comment 5 months ago.

    I do not know this Dr Commoner, but if he believes as you assert, he is incorrect. Pay no attention to him.

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