BioFuels and Global Warming

[ad#125-right]We recently posted an article about global warming showing the average temperatures in 2008 across the globe. Whether or not we agree that this was caused by human interference in the atmosphere, it is clear that some things we do can help or hinder the process of attempting to stabilize the climate. Replacing fossil fuels with biofuels sounds like a good idea to calm down the Peak Oil folks, but it will just heat up the debate in the Climate Change camp…

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account

via Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat – New York Times.

Through the algae

The exception may be some of the efforts to produce fuel from algae, which is currently quite expensive to produce…

As part of the photosynthesis process algae produce oil and can generate 15 times more oil per acre than other plants used for biofuels, such as corn and switchgrass. Algae can grow in salt water, freshwater or even contaminated water, at sea or in ponds, and on land not suitable for food production.

On top of those advantages, algae — at least in theory — should grow even better when fed extra carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) and organic material like sewage. If so, algae could produce biofuel while cleaning up other problems.

via Algae: Biofuel Of The Future?

Little known fact: the farming of algae is called Algaculture.

The main problem is that we might be able to produce it, but doesn’t it still release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere ? Isn’t that part of what we are trying to avoid?

For more information on where the technology is headed, check out this list of algae biofuel startups.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

2 replies on “BioFuels and Global Warming”

  1. It's interesting all the ideas that people have come up with for bio-fuels.
    Algae is definitely a creative concept and hopefully it can do all those things mentioned – because part of the problem I see with some of the other bio-fuels is they can cause major destruction to something else in order to create them. I know there is usually some amount of destruction for every good creation….just as long as it doesn't outweigh the good.

  2. Well said Tara – there is a lot of weighing of options to be done, certainly on a regional and global scale as to which sources of fuel should be adopted as clean. Seeing that there are still people who don't believe that Peak Oil or Climate Change are real, convincing anyone to seriously consider some pond scum as a fuel will be difficult unless it is extremely clean and cheaper than oil.

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