Is algae biofuel too thirsty?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: April 14, 2011   View Article

Biofuel produced from algae, essentially pond scum, has long titillated green energy boosters as a potential big time player in the U.S. renewable fuels portfolio. Now, a-first-of-its-kind look at industrial-scale freshwater farming of algae suggests it could indeed make a sizeable dent in U.S. oil imports, but drain water resources.

Specifically, the U.S. could produce enough of the algae-derived fuel to eliminate 48 percent of the fuel it currently imports for transportation needs, according to researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. But doing so would require 5.5 percent of the land area in the lower 48 states and consume about three times the water currently used to irrigate crops.

“The water use is significant,” Mark Wigmosta, a hydrologist at the lab who led the study, told me today.

Related Posts

Can Data-Driven Agriculture Help Feed a Hungry World?

How the Beer Industry Sustains Pacific Northwest Farmlands

Many in U.S. Face Another Dry Year as World Water Day Arrives

Drink Beer? Take Showers? Better Worry About West’s Snowpack

Hungry Planet: Can Big Data Help Feed 9 Billion Humans?

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach