Disruptive Science and Technology

Disruptive Science and Technology

Can algae-derived oils support large-scale, low-cost biofuels production? This is the question addressed by industry experts Dr. John Benemann, Ian Woertz, and Dr. Tryg Lundquist, in a Review article and accompanying Commentary published in Disruptive Science and Technology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The feasibility and economic projections for large-scale biofuels production from microalgae are examined in the article and accompanying Commentary.

Benemann and Woertz, of MicroBio Engineering, Inc. in Walnut Creek, CA, and Lundquist, of California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, CA, present the results of an engineering and economic study of vegetable oil production from microalgae grown in open ponds. In the article “Life Cycle Assessment for Microalgae Oil Production” the authors also project the energy input and greenhouse gas emissions required to carry out this process at large scale.

In the Commentary entitled “An Introduction to Photosynthetic Microalgae,” Melissa Stark and Ian O’Gara, of Accenture, compare algae culture to agriculture and state that for biofuel applications, algae is relatively high risk compared to other technologies and will require “long-term commitment to achieve commercial scale.”

Algae had “high yield potential” and it “could add significantly to potential biofuel resources…as the planet moves inexorably toward populations in excess of 10 billion people, we must find new ways of generating food and fuel,” says Editor-in-Chief Alan J. Russell, PhD, Highmark Distinguished Professor, Carnegie Mellon University.

“These are national security issues for all countries, as well as moral imperatives. Benemann et al.’s paper on microalgae oil production, and the related commentary by Melissa Stark and Ian O’Gara, point to a sustainable future using this technology,” Russell says.

The articles are available free on the Disruptive Science and Technology website at www.liebertpub.com/dst.