You know that nasty green stuff that grows on top of pond water? It’s called algae, and as it turns out, it may save the world. Talk about the ultimate underdog!
Allow me to explain. Algae is an extremely promising, renewable replacement for non-renewable fossil fuels. I know, right? According to an informational website called All About Algae that is run by the Algae Biomass Organization, “Many different kinds of algae-based fuels – from biodiesel to gasoline substitutes to jet fuel – have been successfully tested in a range of vehicles and commercial and military aircraft.” They add that algae biofuels have either completely met or exceeded the performance of the fossil fuels we use today.
Wait… Won’t this still be omitting CO2 into our atmosphere? With the threat of global warming and the melting of our polar ice caps due to sharp increases in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, algae provides yet another advantage over fossil fuels. As it turns out, algae is a high consumer of CO2, controlling for any omissions. Not to mention, algae yields lower CO2 emissions than fossil fuels in the first place.
Amazingly, this isn’t even the end of what algae can accomplish. Algae’s DHA, beneficial for brain development, is already in 99% of baby formula, according to Algae Industry Magazine. Also according to Algae Industry Magazine, the danger in algae’s production currently surrounds the issue of mandating a ‘food-grade’ versus a ‘chemical-grade’ algae in order to prevent contamination of food sources. Food-grade algae will be grown autotrophically, using sunlight. Chemical-grade algae will be able to be the CO2 consumer from large power plants or even produced in the wake of sewage water.
On March 27, 2018, a bipartisan act called The Algae Agriculture Act of 2018 was introduced to Congress. The act includes recognition by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture of algae as a new agricultural product (increasing funding), a tax incentive of $35 per ton tax break for carbon omitted from power plants that has been captured with algae, and financial assistance to algae farmers facing low yields or natural disasters.
You can even get involved.
There is a call for young researchers to help this project innovate and move ahead, the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit, held from October 14-17, 2018 in Woodlands, Texas. Getting involved means meeting with other researchers in the algae field and presenting a poster or platform presentation.
All in all, algae is looking like a promising solution to the most dire effects of carbon dioxide emission. Maybe the future will be “green” in more ways than one!