Make Biofuel With Algae

While heralded as the cutting-edge technology for future oil production, making biofuel is a remarkably straightforward process. The difficulty is in mass-production, with prohibitively expensive start-up costs. The will was simply not present. However, with oil prices skyrocketing and a new focus on green technologies the advent of biofuel has finally arrived. It may not be a hobbyist’s activity just yet, but the mechanics of producing biofuel are easy enough for anyone to understand.


1. Choose the algae that’s right for you. Producing biofuel from algae is a new realm with many divergent paths. Selecting the proper algae depends upon cost, efficiency and difficulty of growth. Perhaps the most cost-effective is Chlorella, a green algae, because after lipid oil extraction the algae can be repackaged as food, expanding its usability. However, other algaes, such as Dunaliella and Botryococcus have higher lipid content, producing more oil by volume.

2. Prepare nutrients for your algae. Regardless of species, oil-producing algae all require specific nutrients for reproduction. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are the three chief ingredients needed for healthy algae. Other trace elements needed to accelerate algae growth include silica, iron and chloride. While creating your own nutrient bath is possible, many start-up biodiesel companies, such as Green Star Products, sell micronutrient blends tailored to biofuel algae.

3. Construct a growing environment for your algae. The most expensive and efficient systems involve long plastic tubes with a constantly refreshing water system. However, biofuel algae can be grown in shallow ponds or even open pits of waste water. The most important considerations when producing a growing environment for algae is the presence of plenty of sunlight and medium salinity.

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4. Harvest up to 90 percent of your algae crop, then sun dry. Algae populations can quickly replenish, so removing a significant percentage of the algae population will not hamper continued growth.

5. Extract the oil. While there are several methods of extracting lipid oils from algae, a combination of several different methods is the best solution for ensuring maximum yield. Begin by running the dried algae through an oil press. This can extract nearly three-quarters of the oil contained within the dried algae’s cell structure. Mix the remaining pulp with hexane, an inexpensive chemical solvent. The hexane will absorb the oil, allowing for the pulp to be filtered out.

6. Refine extracted algae lipids into necessary fuel. The oils produced from algae can be transformed into a variety of different biofuels. Some, such as biogasoline, biodiesel, even biobutanol, can be used in standard gas tanks in cars available now. Refinement can also produce jet fuel, methane and vegetable oil.