Fill ‘er up, with microalgae

Microalgae are an interesting alternative to other biofuel crops such as corn or soy. Microalgae are individual cells or short chains of cells from algae freely moving through water. They occur in nearly any pool of water and can readily be cultivated.

“They have a number of advantages over oil-containing agricultural products,” explains Johannes Lercher, a researcher investigating algae’s use in biofuel. “They grow significantly faster than land-based biomass, have a high triglyceride content, and, unlike the terrestrial cultivation of oilseed plants, their use for fuel production does not compete with food production.”

The research team has developed a novel catalyst: nickel on a porous support made of zeolite HBeta. They have used this to achieve the conversion of raw, untreated algae oil under mild conditions, suitable for use as high-grade fuels for vehicles.

Read more at Technische Universitaet Muenchen