In Plymouth, England at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, scientists are studying algae in order to combat global warming. The scientists are studying which types of algae absorb the most carbon and which would produce the most oil.
The demand for oil produced from algae is high, as it is considered carbon-neutral. Algae naturally absorb carbon and therefore their growth would potentially counteract any emissions created by the oil use.
Companies are quickly trying to produce algae oil that could be used for anything from bio-diesel to plastic products. Algae is preferred over the crops used for bio-diesel as algae grows 20-30 times faster and can grow in less hospitable conditions. Not only would that mean more land for food crops but quicker cultivation of oil.
Companies currently working on algae fuels are Sapphire Energy, OriginOil, BioCentric Energy and PetroAlgae. The recent discussion on Japan’s flight with biofuel was done in part with algae oil.
In Brazil, MPX Energia wants to offset carbon emissions 10-15 percent at a coal-fired plant by feeding the emissions to algae. The company hopes to begin this in 2011. Other industrial plants hope to use algae to absorb emissions in the future as well.