How to Make Biodiesel from Algae

The idea of using biodiesel to run engines is not new. It has been used in cars for many years.  Biodiesel can run cars and trucks that have diesel engines without having to modify the engine. It is  a popular way for people who are looking for alternative to fossil fuels to be able to enjoy their vehicles. The biodiesel fuel uses a renewable source and is considered to be a clean source of energy. This is different from fossil fuels that will eventually run out and that cause tremendous amounts of damage to the environment when they are used Since biodiesel offers these benefits it might make people wonder why it is not used more often. The main reason is that the supply of biodiesel is not as big as that of fossil fuels.

Many people are concerned that if too much biodiesel is produced it will limit the amount of consumable food that the products that make biodiesel use. If it does not limit the supply, it could also force the price of the staples to rise.  In order to overcome this scenario, researchers are trying to find out how to make biodiesel from algae.

Traditional Ways to Make Biodiesel

How to Make Biodiesel from AlgaeBiodiesel is traditionally made using animal or vegetable fats. The oil that comes from vegetables such as soybeans or corn can be processed into a fuel that will run your cars. In order to get the oil to be processed, people have to find a source. The most common ones that people who make biodiesel at home use is the leftover and discarded oil from restaurants.  This oil is collected, filtered and processed until it is ready to burn in an engine.

This can work for an individual or a small group of people, but in order to mass produce this type of fuel, the oil must be generated freshly. That is why people are worried that biodiesel will use up resources that are more valuable to people in other ways. If there is a way to make biodiesel from algae this would resolve one of the problems that come with the older ways to make biodiesel.  Most people are not going to be concerned that using algae will take food out of their mouth.

How Do You Make Biodiesel from Algae

Algae are very easy to get to grow. A combination of water, carbon dioxide and sunlight will provide the perfect environment for algae growth.  The ease of growing algae is one of the reasons that making biodiesel from it is so attractive. The key about how to make biodiesel from algae is getting the right type of algae. While most people think that all algae are the same there are actually many different varieties.  One of the things that all algae create is natural oils.  There are some varieties that offer more oil than others.  It is the algae that offer the most natural oil that are desirable in the production of biodiesel.

In order to turn the algae into oil that can be made into biodiesel it must go through several steps. The oil must be collected.  Once it is collected it will have to be processed into the biodiesel. Like other oils that come from biological source the oil from algae is very viscous.  In order for it to burn as a fuel it will need to become more flowing and also more flammable. This is done by removing the glycerol from the oil that is collected.

The Fuel Making Process

In order to make algae biodiesel, the oil first has to be separated from the algae. The most common way to do this is by using a centrifuge. When the algae is pun at high speeds it will be separated from the plant itself and can then be collected and used for the various purposes. The glycerin can also be separated using a centrifuge.  Once the oil is separated from the plant it will have to be filtered to remove any other substances that may be contaminating it. Once the oil is cleaned it can have the same agents that are used for the more traditional sources of oil that are used for biodiesel. This process requires special equipment, a few additional chemicals and time.  If you are willing to put these things into the effort, you will be able to make the fuel that you want using algae.

Why Don’t More People Do This

biodiesel from algaeIt takes a lot of biodiesel algae making to generate a reasonable amount of oil.  It is not simply a matter of heading to the pond in the backyard and then putting in the dryer during the spin cycle to spate the oils.  The amount of algae that is required is immense and this makes it somewhat impractical on a small home based scale.  There are algae forms that have the large volume of algae that is needed to produce the oil for biodiesel. These farms are designed to provide the algae with the best possible environment for maximum growth.  They are temperature and humidity controlled and the right type of algae is used.  They are able to produce the high volume of oil that is required because they have been designed to do this.  They also have the equipment that is needed to separate the oil and turn it into biodiesel.  All of these things require a significant investment of money that most people do not have.

Many people might wonder what the future of biodiesel will be. It is hard to tell. There is a lot of research that is going on, but not everyone believes that it is worth the effort. There are many companies that might lose a lot if we learn how to make biodiesel from algae effectively. They are not willing to back the efforts of the scientists that are working on these projects.  As the supply of traditional fossil fuels continues to dwindle and the price of gas rises, the need for ways to make biodiesel will increase and the idea of using algae to make biodiesel might make sense to a larger group of people.