Since 2007, I've done a lot of research working on energy and found that one of the most interesting long-term abundant renewable energy options is algae oil which does not compete with food supply. In fact, algae can yield more biofuel per acre than plant-based biofuels – currently about 1,500 gallons of fuel per acre, per year. That’s almost five times more fuel per acre than from sugar cane or corn. And it burns much cleaner than fossil fuel.
Algae oil is used to power cars, planes, trains, factories and provides biopharma technology applications. Algae oil burns clean, as the combustion produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional fossil fuels, making it a promising feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and automobiles. For example, algae-based SAF typically emits 50 to 80% less CO2 compared to traditional jet fuel and fossil fuels such as petroleum oil when burned, depending on the type of algae and the production process used writes J Dean @SCS.
In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, algae-based SAF also emits lower levels of other harmful pollutants such as sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, which can have negative impacts on air quality and human health. And airlines such as United are helping to pioneer new clean energy with groups like Eco-Skies Alliance.
It's important to note that the exact level of emissions reduction achieved by algae-based SAF depends on various factors such as the feedstock source, production process, and supply chain logistics. However, overall, algae-based SAF has the proven to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of aviation and contribute to a more sustainable future for the industry.
Today, an estimated 1 billion dry tons of biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States, enough to produce 50–60 billion gallons of low-carbon biofuels. These resources include :
Other fats, oils, and greases
Wood mill waste
Municipal solid waste streams
Wet wastes (manures, wastewater treatment sludge)
Dedicated energy crops.
This vast resource contains enough feedstock to meet the projected fuel demand of the U.S. aviation industry, additional volumes of drop-in low carbon fuels for use in other modes of transportation, and produce high-value bioproducts and renewable chemicals.
In the study, I calculated with others including a team from ExxonMobil in our research analysis the need for about 4-million acre area in a hot climate like Arizona, Nevada or California desert to produce the algae oil needed to power all of the U.S. transportation needs. And the algae oil is actually a much higher grade, burns much cleaner, and provides renewable energy long-term versus unhealthy fossil fuels and petroleum products. The algae oil may also be used in manufacturing of materials to produce a wide range of goods for markets. Over 13 years ago, ExxonMobil began investing in algae oil and derivative fuels.
Further, research has been on-going for decades of algae biofuel at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. While innovative companies that I've done work for include, Dyadic, CEO Mark Emalfarb it's partners such as ExxonMobil. The Dyadic DNA gene edited, enzymes curated over decades accelerate the fermentation of algae in hot sun to produce high grade oil that's skimmed off a pool of water, and used as automobile and jet fuel blends. Checkout Dyadic (a very innovative company) with significant proprietary biopharma technology applications writes J Dean @SCS. Dyadic offers proprietary new technology and valuable knowledge.
Clean burning biofuel oils are not a new technology. In fact, 12 years ago the United States military began using biofuel jet fuel blends to reduce the reliance of petroleum oil.
More recently on February 22, 2022, the innovative Airbus A380 hydrogen airplane "ZEROe Demonstrator" was fully developed, coming on-board. And it's great to see both Airbus and Boeing working towards cleaner aviation through the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), particularly by using cooking oil as a feedstock and new hydrogen combustion technology. SAF has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry and help achieve decarbonization goals.
The Waypoint 2050 report highlights the importance of deploying SAF as the single largest opportunity to achieve decarbonization in the aviation industry. The report suggests that SAF has the potential to deliver between 53 and 71 percent of the required carbon reductions.
It's impressive that Airbus already has its aircraft certified to fly with a 50 percent SAF-kerosene blend. Airbus' goal to achieve certification for 100 percent SAF use by the end of the decade is a positive step towards a more sustainable future for aviation.
In 2022, ExxonMobil successfully delivered the first cargo of certified Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to Changi Airport as part of a one-year pilot launched by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Singapore Airlines and Temasek. The SAF is manufactured by blending ExxonMobil-produced refined jet fuel with the Neste-produced neat SAF at ExxonMobil facilities in Singapore.