Algae can be up to 60% oil, and this oil can be used to replace many of the products that currently come from crude oil, including biodiesel and jet fuel, biolubricants, and biochemicals.
Biodiesel and Algae Jet Fuel
The long-chain oils in algae are easily transformed into both biodiesel and a biokerosene (i.e., jet fuel). A number of U.S. companies, as well as Pond Biofuels, have successfully produced biodiesel from algae oil, and the U.S. military has experimented with running vehicles and ships exclusively on biodiesel. Aviation company EADS, the maker of the airbus, has flown commercial jets on 100% jet fuel from algae.
The oils in algae can be used to make a number of chemical ‘feedstocks’, including succinic acid and farnesene, as well as triglycerides that are used as the basis for making biolubricants. Currently biolubricants are used in oil and gas drilling, forestry operations, and as greases at hydroelectric facilities.
Bio-based polyurethane can be produced from algae oils, and used to make plastics, paints, and glues. Bio-plastics in particular are increasingly in demand by consumers. Other biochemicals that can be created from algae include alkyd resins, used as a drying agent in paints, and cellulose, which is used in paper-making, and to produce rayon fabrics.