Every day it seems you turn on the TV or open a newspaper and there will some feature about the environment, climate change, carbon footprints and all these kinds of things. We all know about traditional "green" energy sources such as solar power and wind power but all the time we are learning of new developments.
One of the more recent developments on the environmental energy front is biofuel made from algae. Basically how it works is that the algae captures carbon dioxide and sunlight and converts it into oxygen and biomass by way of photosynthesis. At the moment it's still pretty costly compared to traditional fuels, however there has been a lot of investment in this area and it could be that algae biofuel because more widespread in future.
Unlike other crops used for biofuel such as corn and soy. The algae doesn't actually have to be cultivated on land. Of course, we know how land is at such a premium these days for both housing and agriculture. So having the ability to produce algae elsewhere is fantastic
However, as with most things relating to new eco developments, algae as a source of biofuel is not without it's problems. A research team from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville looked at many different types of biofuel made from corn, canola and switchgrass and discovered that algae has a larger carbon footprint.
All is not lost however. If the algae is produced next to an area where there is a lot of carbon dioxide, the footprint will be greatly reduced. So basically, the algae takes the nutrients by recycling the carbon dioxide rather than requiring virgin nutrients.
The algae can also be grown in waste water and sewage which is great considering we flush so many of the "nutrients" that algae loves down the toilet. We still have a lot to learn about algae and the best ways of farming it for biofuel purposes but with continued investment there's still a lot of hope.