Friday, August 7, 2015

07/08/2015: Is algal oil a fuel of the future?

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It has been revealed that algal oil could potentially be used as a fuel after researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) discovered large quantities of 'super-algae' that could provide a new source of oil.

Following this discovery, the micro-algae strains were examined in the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP), an algal store based at SAMS in Oban. This was to find out which ocean-based strains had the highest oil content. 

The screening brought attention to two marine strains: Nannochloropis  oceanica and Chlorella vulgaris, which had a dry weight oil content of more than 50 percent. This makes them perfect bio fuel sources for vehicles and aircraft. 

As a consequence, it has been predicted that there will be lots more research into the uses of algae as a fuel source in the near future. 

Nannochloropis, for example, has demonstrated efficiency when converting nutrients and therefore has the perfect combination of high oil content and high productivity. 

The report’s lead author, Dr Stephen Slocombe, SAMS research associate in molecular biology, said: “In order to produce bio fuels from micro-algae we will have to generate high yields, so we need to know which strains will produce the most oil.
“While there is a lot of work being done on micro-algae biotechnology – currently around 10,000 researchers across the world – no-one has identified a shortlist of the best performing strains and how their properties could be used.”

Although micro-algae synthesise high levels of oil, carbohydrates and protein from sunlight, only a few species are grown commercially for health foods. This suggests that they may also be useful for the production of aquaculture feed. 

This 'super-algae' will help researchers decide which strains to produce for mass culture. 

Read more HERE.

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