Biodiesel from pond algae

Farm ponds might get a new lease of commercial life producing biodiesel if so-called second generation biofuel technology takes off.

AlgaeLink subsidiary of Dutch firm Bioking, plans to unveil “revolutionary photobioreactors” behind a process which turns algae into oil at Biodiesel-Expo at the Newark Showground on 17 & 18 Oct.

Unlike crops such as soya, palm, corn and rapeseed, many strains of micro-algae, which absorb nitrogen from wastewater and extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, contain as much as 70% oil, says the company.

Algae need just water, sunlight and nutrients to kick-start an oil-bearing life. They can be grown in open ponds or sealed in clear tubes to produce far more oil per acre than controversial crop sources, it adds.

Micro-algae, which can be grown all year round, are said to be the fastest growing plants on earth, typically doubling their weight every day. They also grow in adverse conditions like deserts and salt water, it points out.

Richard Price, director of Biofuels Media which is organising the event, said: “Algae is probably the most exciting development in biofuels today as it has an extremely high yield and does not have the disadvantages associated with other feedstocks.”