U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Energy 101: Algae-to-Fuel (Text Version)
Below is the text version for the Energy 101: Algae-to-Fuel video:
The video opens with "Energy 101: Algae-to-Fuel." Shots of vehicles driving on highways.
We all need fuel to get around. And as America takes steps to improve our energy security, homegrown fuel sources are more important than ever.
Close-up shots of algae, followed by a shots of an algae farm and raceway ponds.
The Energy Department is researching one of the fuel sources of the future found here: in algae. Have a look at this algae farm. These large, man-made ponds are called raceways, and they cultivate a new crop of algae every few weeks.
Various shots of algae in raceway ponds. Text appears on screen: "Microalgae — Up to 60X Oil of Land-Based Plants."
You see, algae, or more correctly, microalgae, are very small aquatic organisms that convert sunlight into energy. Some of these algae store energy in the form of natural oils. Under the right conditions, algae can make a lot of oil that can be converted into biofuels.
Text appears on screen: "Microalgae – Up to 60X Oil of Land-Based Plants."
Algae could potentially produce up to 60 times more oil per acre than land-based plants.
Shot of laboratory equipment, followed by a shot of algae in a beaker. Shot sequence of cars, trains, and planes in motion.
Extract that oil, and you have the raw materials to make fuel for cars, trucks, trains, and planes. In the future, anything that runs on gasoline and diesel could also use biofuel from algae.
Shot of a microscope, followed by microscopic images of algae. The words "Lipids (Oil)" and "Cell Wall" appear on screen.
The oil is extracted by breaking down the cell structure of the algae.
The words "Oil Extraction" appear on screen, followed by "Solvents" and then "Sonification (Sound Waves)."
This can be done by using solvents, or sound waves.
Shot of a laboratory worker holding a beaker of oil. Shot of a biorefinery.
After the oil is extracted, then it is further processed at an integrated biorefinery — or, in the future, at a traditional oil refinery.
Various shots of the biorefinery and its workers, followed by close-up shots of algae in vials. Shot of a car driving on the highway. Text appears on screen: "Microalgae — Carbon-Neutral Fuel Source."
Another great benefit of algae? Well, consider this: like plants, algae needs carbon dioxide to grow — and that's good for the environment, since it takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, making it a nearly carbon-neutral fuel source.
Shot of raceway ponds, followed by a wide shot of a power plant. Close-up shot of the plant's smokestacks.
There may even be opportunities to build algae farms next to power plants that use fossil fuels — actually using CO2 exhaust to feed algae ponds.
Various shots of algae at a farm and being processed in a biorefinery. Shots of various climates.
There are over 100,000 different strains of algae. Some grow better in different climates, or in freshwater, saltwater, or even wastewater.
Shots of scientists working with algae.
So, scientists are testing different algae under many different conditions to find the best strains and develop the most efficient farming practices.
Close-up shot of algae in a raceway pond, followed by a wide shot of the algae farm.
While commercial production is still a ways off, algae holds great promise to become a reliable, homegrown fuel source to reduce our nation's reliance on foreign oil.