Fuelling the future with clever ideas at Cranfield University

A feature about algae doesn’t sound the most enticing. But stick with me because it could help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. At Cranfield University researchers have discovered a way to turn algae into jet fuel…

When talking to Cranfield’s director of energy, Professor Feargal Brennan, it seems the algae rocket fuel is the sort of brilliant solution that kills about five birds with one stone let alone two.

In recent years as farmers started using agricultural land for biofuel crops the knock on effect was a rise in world food prices. Feargal and his team looked at how they could produce an alternative fuel without displacing the land used for food.

“When you take a step backwards, you realise 80 per cent of the world’s surface area is covered in oceans and seas.

“Our approach was to use a naturally occurring native species of algae and develop a system where we could cultivate it,” he says.

After developing a way of converting the algae to fuel the plan is that it could be farmed out at sea.

“It’s so attractive because you can harvest microalgae every seven to 10 days whereas the best possible production of agricultural crop land we can get is two harvests per year,” adds Feargal.

And here comes the best bit, he says the fuel will be carbon negative. In other words, when it is grown it will extract more C02 from the atmosphere than it releases when it’s burned.

There’s always a hitch though and the next step is working out how to produce a good quality fuel on an industrial scale while not under lab conditions.

 

View original article at: Fuelling the future with clever ideas at Cranfield University

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