Ocean algae can reportedly be grown as an economical biofuel, according to a new study shared by the Algal Research journal. San Diego scientists believe that saltwater algae can supposedly be grown and harvested as cheaply as freshwater algae.
If the research findings perform well in the practice stages, production of algae biofuels could expand from lab tanks and ponds to the ocean. Researchers also feel that by using brackish or nonpotable ocean water as petroleum substitutes fresh water can be conserved for human consumption, according to U-T San Diego News.
UC San Diego study leader Stephen Mayfield had this to say about the ocean algae research:
“What we showed is that we could do the genetic engineering that’s going to be required to really get costs down. One of the ideas that people had for monetizing [the remaining part] was to make high-value proteins in it. We’ve shown we can do that by expressing industrial enzymes.”
The primary focus of making algae more competitive as a biofuel is to get a greater value out of all the algae, according to researchers. Oil reportedly constitutes between 30 to 40 percent of the algae’s total mass. Mayfield believes that genetic engineering technology can be utilized to increase the value of algae biofuels. Algal biofuels have been developed for many years, but the infrastructure necessary for wide-scale production do not readily exist. Ocean algae feasibility may drastically and positively change the biofuel production landscape.
Industrial enzymes are frequently used in the manufacture of commercial products. The UC San Diego researches points to cellulases used to soften stonewashed jeans as a prime example. It is possible that ocean algae could also be used as a supplement in animal feed.