Algae into biodiesel

A project to transform algae into biodiesel has been awarded $166,000 in funding from the Queensland Government.


A partnership between James Cook University (JCU) and Australian company MBD Biodiesel will lead to the development of a farm that can transform algae into biodiesel.


While most biodiesels come from agricultural crops like canola, soy and palm oil, algae can be grown with ease in ponds or tanks on poor quality land. The process, which is also being trialled in Europe and the US, also produces as a by-product ‘algal cake’ which can be used as animal feedstock.


When placed beside a coal or gas fired power station, an algae farm could consume 50 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the exhaust gas. The process also produces algal oil which can easily be transformed into biodiesel and glycerine.


‘Next year we plan to build a 35,000 tonne algae pilot farm followed by a 400-hectare algae farm by 2010 which can ultimately consume in excess of 2,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and provide algae oil for a 250,000 tonne biodiesel plant,’ said MBD Biodiesel director Dr Marc Stammbach.


‘Tthe first stage will be the identification and development of suitable algae strains to achieve stable, continuous, high yield algae production,’ he added.