Algal Biomass - Does it save the world?

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The technical potential of macro- and micro-algae for biomass production and greenhouse gas abatement has been recognised for many years, given their ability to use carbon dioxide and the possibility of their achieving higher productivities than land-based crops. Biofuel production from these marine resources, whether use of biomass or the potential of some species to produce high levels of oil, is now an increasing discussion topic. There are multiple claims in this sector but the use of algae as an energy production system is likely to have to be combined with waste water treatment or uptake of nutrients and minerals from polluted natural resources and co-production of high value products for an economic process to be achieved. These current biofuel discussions illustrate two issues. First, the potential broad utility of these organisms, that are capable of multiple products, ranging from energy, chemicals and materials to applications in carbon sequestration and waste water remediation. Second, the need for a robust evidence base of factual information to validate decisions for the strategic development of algae and to counter those claims made on a solely speculative basis to support commercial investment.
IEA Bioenergy Task 37
(1.54 Mb)