AP English Literature
07 December 2013
"Most fossil fuel supply experts project a future in which world crude oil supply drops two to five per cent per year... If it happens in 2015: by 2030 people must manage on 33% less oil, in 2045 they have 50% less, in 2060 they have 75% less" (“Fossil Fuel Depletion”). Fuel is essential in our society, and this depletion has affected and will continue to affect everyone. Because fossil fuels are nonrenewable, biodiesel is the next best thing. "Biodiesel refers to any diesel-equivalent bio fuel made from renewable biological materials such as vegetable oils or animal fats consisting of long chain saturated hydrocarbons" (“Biodiesel from Algae”). Unfortunately, biodiesel made from land based crops include various problems, namely the displacement of food and amount of crops needed to produce just one gallon of oil (“Biodiesel from Algae”). "Algae were first explored as a fuel alternative in 1978 under Jimmy Carter... Algae are easy to grow and can be manipulated to produce huge amounts without disturbing any natural habits or food sources... Algae are easy to please- all they need are water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide" (“How Algae Biodiesel Works”). Algae have been proven to yield 30 times more energy per acre than any [land based] crop (“Biodiesel from Algae”), algae biodiesel companies will only need a fragment of the land currently used for other biodiesel products to build [algae] biodiesel plants (“How Algae Biodiesel Works”). Algae even help reduce emissions. “Through photosynthesis, algae pull carbon dioxide from the air, replacing it [carbon dioxide] with oxygen” (“How Algae Biodiesel Works”). Therefore, Algae biodiesel is the most beneficial and efficient fuel source. “Algae are used in Wastewater Treatment facilities, reducing the need for greater amounts of toxic chemicals than are already used” (“Uses of Algae as Energy Source, Fertilizer, Food and Pollution control”). This ‘purity’ of algae is a benefit to manufacturers producing Algae Biodiesel, because there will be no need for any additional chemicals. This not only helps pollution control but also saves the time and money that would have been spent utilizing the chemicals properly and does not reduce the efficiency of the fuel. There are many methods to extract the oil from algae, “the supercritical fluids method extracts up to 100 percent of the oil from algae…Carbon dioxide acts as the supercritical fluid— when a substance is pressurized and heated to change its composition into a piqued as well as a gas” (Newman). However, the oil press is the simplest as well as the most popular method ….The oil press can extract up to 75 percent of the oil from the algae being pressed (Newman). A different method is a two-part process, the hexane solvent method (combined with pressing algae) which extracts up to 95% of oil from algae. First, the press squeezes out the oil. Then any leftover algae are mixed with hexane, filtered and cleaned so there’s no chemical left in the oil. The mixture [from trans esterification] is then refined to remove the glycerol. The final product is algae biodiesel fuel (Newman). Converting from petroleum to Algae biodiesel fuel would be nearly effortless. Tiffany Stecker and ClimateWire state, “Algae, with its ability to produce oil that mimics the properties of crude, could easily slip into existing motors that currently run on fossil fuels.” Stefani Newman explains “half of algae’s composition, by weight, is lipid oil,” and the following steps of yet another method of which lipid oil can be created into a biodiesel fuel. “Once the algae are harvested, the lipids, or oils, are extracted from the walls of the algae cells…..Once the oil’s extracted, its refined using fatty acid chains in a process called trans esterification. Here, a catalyst such as sodium hydroxide is mixed in with an alcohol such as methanol. This creates a biodiesel fuel combined with...