Algae-based biofuel is one among the scarcely-known renewable fuels that still has significant economic uncertainty and technical challenges. However, the potential advantages are also significant, prompting the government to take numerous supporting actions.
Industry estimates indicate that potential oil output from certain strains of algae are at least 60 times greater than yields from soybeans and around 5 times higher than that of palm oil for every acre of land. During 1978 to 1996, the Department of Energy (DOE)-supported Aquatic Species Program identified the immense potential for generating huge quantities of algal fuel.
The DOE, in its recently introduced National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap, offers an in-depth state-of-technology summary meant for co-products and fuels from algal feedstocks and provides documents on the techno-economic challenges and feasibility related with scaling up of production processes.
The DOE is also making an investment of $24 million for supporting three research consortia which are taking steps to remove the hindrances to commercialization. Some of the goals of the project include algal nutrient utilization and novel methods to protecting algal crop.