Picture Credit: Benjamin Arseguel
A recent post on Chemically Green “The Truth About Jatropha Curcas” lists the pros and cons for growing Jatropha Curcas. India, which has researched extensively in growing Jatropha, has been investing heavily in Jatropha Curcas for biofuel production for their own automobile transportation. Early reports on Jatropha Curcas stated this bush could be grown on marginal land and little irrigation and this has not proven to be factual. Check out: “Biodiesel Being Made from Tree Nuts”.
Now, India is changing directions for biofuel production and is taking a look at perhaps the real answer for producing biofuels and biodiesel: Growing algae to produce biodiesel. A real biofuel revelation coming from India: Algae biodiesel will out-produce Jatropha Curcas for biodiesel production. Also, when you compare the advantages of growing biodiesel vs. Jatropha, algae has many more positive traits than Jatropha including production yields by 10:1. No intense crop management, no soil preparation, grow in any environment and less labor intense handling of Jatropha for processing of biodiesel.
New Delhi, In the endevour to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions to achieve a clean environment, humble algae appears to be taking a lead over the more-talked-about biodiesel source Jatropha. Experts say that “algae farming in less than 1 per cent of India’s total land can make the country self-sufficient in liquid fuel. Algae yield from one acre of wasteland can be 10 times more than Jatropha and by a conservative estimate over 10,000 litres of oil can be produced from one acre of waste/degraded land”, they add.
Algae as cheapest source of biofuels in view of spiraling energy costs was recently also endorsed by Biocon chairman & managing director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. “Algae holds great promise. Algae can be the cheapest source of biofuel that is easily produced, which can help in reducing pollution in various industries like chemical, textile, detergents,” she said at a TERI function in the Capital.
“As sustainable alternatives are sought in a bid to enhance energy security as well as reduce carbon emissions, the focus of researchers has shifted to next generation biodiesel — those not made from food crops such as soya or palm. It has been conclusively established that, in terms of per hectare oil yield, algae could be the most efficient source of feedstock for biodiesel industry,” explains Saxena. While Jatropha takes two-three years for commercial yield, algae starts yielding from two-three days and thereafter the algae oil can be harvested everyday. Algae oil can be suitably converted to biodiesel and left over deoiled cake serves as an excellent source of high value protein to supplement the cattle feed.
(Source: The Tribune, Chandigar India)
And not just this, algae farming for biofuels can also provide a solution to the food versus fuel debate. As algae does not need agriculture land, it can be grown using non-potable or seawater.