Could a humble weed fuel the world?

Brisbane researchers have found a way to turn algae into petrol.

The fast-growing weed is oil-rich, providing hope for the development of commercially viable fuels that are not only cheaper and more efficient to produce but also carbon neutral.

The work is being undertaken by scientists from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience at a small algae farm in Pinjarra Hills.

Professor Ben Hankamer says it’s an important step towards creating a sustainable future.

“Globally about 80 per cent of our energy is used in the form of fuels,” he said.

“By about 2033 we’ll have to have 50 percent of our energy as being co2 free and renewable.”

Scientists were looking for ways to create new fuels when they discovered microscopic algae could be turned into fuel.

They’ve been testing hundreds of species to come up with a short list of top performers for oil extraction.

The product can then be refined through traditional processes and put into cars.

One of the most attractive aspects of ‘Algae fuel’ is how easily the weed grows in Australia’s warm climate.

 

Photo: Researchers at the University of Queensland have found a way to turn algae into petrol.

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