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Researchers at University of Kansas develop a more efficient way to turn wastewater algae to biofuel

Algae biomass biofuel

One of the major quests of the last decade has been to not just find alternate energy sources, but find ones that can smoothly replace the existing fossil fuel usage and hence reduce our reliance on these resources. While crude oil is a significant factor in diving both our lives and modern economies forward, time has come to think seriously about alternatives as both growing costs and limited sources are starting to hinder progress. Biofuel has been long touted as the deal solution, but it seems that all the initial excitement has been stripped away thanks to both practical and economic constraints surrounding the fuel.

Researchers though are working hard in trying to overcome both these hurdles and those at the University of Kansas have found a brand new way that makes the process of turning wastewater-bred algae into biofuel far more lucrative and economically viable. Using a process dubbed as hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), they are turning algae into ‘biocrude’ that offers a sustainable solution for biomass and biofuel extraction from the source.

While previous methods have relied on extensive dewatering and use of organic solvents through the course of lipid extraction, this has often led to making the biofuel generated from wastewater algae a ‘economically unviable’ product while also rising concerns regarding the environmental impact of such process. But by using the HTL procedure researchers have found that the derived microalgae yield biocrude that is 5−30 per cent higher than in case of the conventional method.

In simpler terms, here is a method that will hopefully help use our wastewater systems to cultivate biofuel sources that are both efficient and green all the way. It might take a bit of time though for the process to find its feet in the commercial world; but hopefully not too long.

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