Algae biofuel research had an early surge in the 1970s-90s. Then, during a brief window of time, from roughly 2009 to around 2017, this alternative fuel technology became the darling of the renewable alternative energy industry. It was hailed as a solution to many of the world’s climate woes due to algae’s ability to capture carbon without significantly raising food prices, as was potentially the case with other biomass fuels sourced from corn, soy and sugarcane. Predicted to be a big winner, algae biofuel was fast-tracked into research and development by biotech companies in league with major corporations, including Shell, Chevron and Exxon. But, after numerous setbacks, failed tests and enormous unanticipated production costs, algae biofuel today is no longer a firm favorite, with many companies dropping out of the race, including both Chevron and Shell. Still, even with its initial shine dulled, it remains today a tantalizing nature-based climate change solution, with some companies — including ExxonMobil — still actively pursuing it. Ryan Davis and Sandia National Laboratories colleagues have developed a method to recycle critical and costly algae cultivation nutrients phosphate and nitrogen. Image courtesy of Sandia Labs. What are algae and algae biofuels? “What are algae?” proves to be a surprisingly complex question. They are among the simplest organic producers in the world, using light and carbon dioxide to make biomass. Green algae, for example, use photosynthesis to grow. But algae aren’t only classed as plants. Rather, they’re a highly varied and genetically diverse group of organisms hailing…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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