The algae bio-oils if processed in the U.S. refineries will supplement conventional gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels and marine fuels. There is an additional potential for other products such as chemicals and lubricants.
The following are the advantages of algae-based fuel:
- Algae can be cultivated on land unsuitable for other purposes.
- Using less land and not requiring the use of clean water, it can yield greater volumes of biofuels per acre than other sources.
- Algae can be used to manufacture biofuels similar to transportation fuels.
- Algae consume CO2 and have the potential to provide greenhouse gas mitigation benefits versus conventional fuels.
- The molecules that exist in crude oil are produced by some strains of algae.
- Algae are a potential source of these important renewable molecules.
- Algal lipids have a bio-oil composition similar to plant oils.
- The algal starch composition is similar to plant starch used to manufacture first generation bio-fuels like ethanol.
- Algae naturally harvest significantly more light than they can effectively use and convert to biofuels.
According to Vijay Swarup, Vice President of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, the challenge is to find and develop algae that can produce bio-oils at scale on a cost-efficient basis. The U.S. road transportation demands a significant amount of algae to produce enough fuel. 110-square-mile area of land is needed to generate enough fuel to satisfy just 0.1% of the United States’ road transportation fuel needs for one year.
At ExxonMobil, the algae-based bio-fuels could contribute to increased efficiency, expanded supply and mitigated emissions.