Algal Biofuels

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The Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO’s) Advanced Algal Systems Program supports early-stage applied research and development (R&D) to lower the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts. The program works with partners to develop new technologies and conduct crosscutting analyses that can sustainably expand biomass resource potential in the United States. This work will help researchers realize the potential of an algal biofuel industry capable of producing billions of gallons per year of renewable diesel, gasoline, and jet fuels.

The Advanced Algal Systems Program’s project portfolio systematically addresses barriers along the supply chain, from production to logistics, to break down critical technical barriers and promote sustainable and affordable algal biofuels. To enhance its algae portfolio and engage key stakeholders, BETO regularly hosts algal biofuels strategy workshops to discuss the R&D needed to achieve affordable, scalable, and sustainable algae-based biofuels.

Learn more about BETO’s Advanced Algal Systems Program on the Related Links page.

Energy 101: Converting Algae to Fuels

The term “algae” refers to a great diversity of organisms—from microscopic cyanobacteria to giant kelp—which convert sunlight into energy using photosynthesis, like plants. There are over 100,000 genetically diverse strains of algae. This is an advantage for researchers, who can harness algae strains’ numerous unique properties to develop promising algal biofuels and bioproducts.

The key to algae’s potential as a renewable fuel source lies in increasing algal biomass productivity per acre. Some researchers say algae could be 10 or even 100 times more productive than traditional bioenergy feedstocks. Achieving these high productivities in real-world systems is a key challenge to realizing the promise of sustainable and affordable algal biofuels. Once harvested, algae can be readily processed into the raw material to make fuels for cars, trucks, trains, and planes. 

Check out our Energy 101: Algae-to-Fuels video below to learn more about algal biofuel R&D.

Energy 101 | Algae-to-Fuels