Algae burn for you

Finding sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels that would both solve the problem of dwindling supplies of oil and cut the net carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles running on hydrocarbon fuels is a cause high on the environmental agenda. The use of biomass as a source for fuels compounds has benefits, but the setting aside of the great tracts of land required to “grow” adequate crops for conversion into biodiesel detracts from a parallel agenda of major concern: land use and food security.

Now, Johannes Lercher and his colleagues, Baoxiang Peng, Yuan Yao, Chen Zhao, at the Technische Universität München have developed a new catalytic process that might offer a solution to both problems. Their catalyst can efficiently convert biomass, or more properly biopetroleum, generated by microalgae into diesel fuels for use in suitable vehicles.

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