Monday, April 4, 2011

COMSTE supports expansion of research in the use of algae as biofuel

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 5, 2011-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) said that COMSTE is supporting the expansion of research and development (R&D) into the use of algae as a biofuel, explaining that more countries are developing the use of it; thus, the Philippines should continue to support research in this and other Renewable Energy (RE) sources.

“The US Airforce recently tested the F 22 Raptor, the most modern weapons system in the Airforce, flying on a 50/50 blend of biofuel. Continental Airlines has also been testing biofuel on a Boeing 737-800 passenger plane,” Angara noted, saying that the United Arab Emirates reported that algae use is now scalable and can become cheaper to produce than oil.

“COMSTE partners from Alson’s Aquaculture and the Ateneo Innovation Center (AIC) have been collaborating as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to study the use of algae as a biofuel,” Angara said, saying that initial experiments in the country demonstrate that the use of algae as a biofuel has high potential, and it can also be used as a carbon capture mechanism when coupled with coal-fired plants according to COMSTE. 

The AIC and Alsons teams, plus two other photo bio-reactor companies aim to study optimal conditions that will promote the growth of algae and the cleaning of coal fired plants by placing nearby aquaculture ponds.

In 2004, the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research in Wales reported that the algae biofuel industry had an estimated value of $700 million, and is continuing to grow.

To produce diesel, gasoline and even jet fuel, Angara said that the US based National Renewable Energy Laboratory is currently studying the most viable strains of algae that they can use as a renewable energy source.

To displace the fuel needs of the country, Dr. Catalino Blanche, a national program leader with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that the US is studying ways to develop algae as a biofuel, saying that  the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) study that algae can produce up to 1,200 - 10,000 gallons per acre.

“Mexico is developing a program that can potentially replace fossil fuels with biofuel blends which aims to produce 1% of the nation’s jet fuel from algae in less than five years,” Angara ended. (Jason de Asis)

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