Significant Advantages of Microalgal Biofuel Systems
Reducing arable land use for biofuel production:
A common concern related to conventional biofuels is that as production capacities increase, so will the competition with agriculture for arable land. Similarly, rainforest regions are being cleared to make room for oil palm plantations required for the production of oil for bio-diesel. 2nd generation microalgal biofuel systems can be located on non-arable land, eliminating this competition. This also opens up new economic opportunities for arid, drought or salinity-affected regions.
High yields: Microalgal bioreactors have already been demonstrated to produce higher biofuel feedstock yields (eg. oil for biodiesel production) per hectare than conventional crops.
Reducing H2O use in agriculture: Traditional biofuel crops require substantial amounts of fresh water. The use of closed bioreactor systems, minimises evaporation, yielding considerable savings in net water use. Using salt tolerant algae further improves water savings.
Couple clean fuel production with CO2 sequestration: The microalgal biomass remaining after biofuel production contains a substantial amount CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere or from an industrial waste stream, via the photosynthetic process. Pyrolysis of this waste biomass can produce a charcoal like product (Agrichar) which is stable for ~102 years in soil and so has a value in terms of carbon credits under a future C-trading scheme. The pyrolysis process also effectively sterilizes the waste biomass ensuring environmentally friendly waste disposal.