Algae is becoming increasingly popular as a source of biofuel. Algae grows, on average, ten times faster than land based crops, and the yields from algae are much higher than from crops such as corn. Following the five steps below will produce ethanol from algae:
1 – Cultivate
Algae is best grown in a still water environment; a pond will work well, but any container made of glass or plastic will also work. Always make sure that the container has easy access to sunlight. Many types of algae can be used for producing biofuels, but Chlorella is a particularly suitable choice and one of the most common.
2 – NPK
Plant foods will supply the nutrients necessary for growing algae in a container. Potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen are essential for plant growth. Nutrient solutions can be ordered online from garden centres.
3 – Harvest
When the algae has grown, remove a large portion of it from the container. Leave behind ten percent, or less, of the algae in the container to begin the next growth series. Leaving this ‘starter’ behind will ensure that the algae keeps growing so long as it is supplied with sunlight and nutrients. Dry your algae in the sun before moving on to the next stage.
4 – Filter
Press the dried algae twice through an oil press. The first press will produce an oil from which the biofuel is extracted. For the second press, mix the remaining algal matter with a small amount of hexane; this will dissolve the remaining oil in the algae and make it easy to remove on the second press.
5 – Refine
A centrifuge is used for the final stage of producing biofuel. In order to produce your required type of biofuel, be it bioethanol, biobutanol or biodiesel, pour the oil into the centrifuge and separate the oil to the required level.
The above process for making biofuel from algae at home is similar to the process followed in commercial production. The fuel produced from algae is infinitely renewable; food sources for algae can be modified to be 100% natural so the cost of production can be kept to a minimum as well. In a world where fuel prices continue to rise, biofuels from algae offer hope for a sustainable future.
Remember: Store the biofuels in a secure container away from heat sources and naked flames. Biofuels are just as combustible as regular fuels.