What is it?
Algae (singular alga) are photosynthetic organisms that get their food from using sunlight and Carbon dioxide to make energy. As a result, they give off oxygen that is crucial for our very existence. Algae are traditionally considered to be simple plants, while some algae are closer in connection with more organized plants. Algae are found in the Eurkarya Domain and under the Protista Kingdom. These organisms vary from small unicellular, single celled, life to complex multi-cellular organisms. Algae are composed of eukaryotic cells that are made up of the following in different proportions: proteins, carbohydrates, fats and nucleic acids. The fatty acid (oil) is what gets extracted or squeezed out of the algae and made into biodiesel. One such example of algae is the Kelps that can grow up to 60 meters tall found mainly in eastern pacific marine habitats that are very dense. (Algae Staff)
Where are they found?
Algae are organisms that are very robust, if not the most sturdy and vigorous organism on earth. The can live in almost any environment and withstand extraordinary weather conditions. They are commonly found in damp areas or in surfaces of water, therefore are familiar with land and aquatic environments. Unfortunately, algae that grow on land are not easily seen or noticed and they are far more noticeable in humid, tropical regions rather than dry environments because algae do not have necessary traits to survive on land and have no vascular tissues or fluid carrying vessels. These non-marine habitats are examples of where some algae thrive in: billabongs & lagoons, marshes, swamps, farm, dams, hot springs, lakes, mud, and sand Ponds (ephemeral), puddles, roadside ditches, and etc. (oilgae)
Since when are they around?
Algae are among the earliest organisms on the earth. They thrived in shallow water with other simple creatures hundreds of millions of years ago. (Hodge)
How are they classified?
CHLOROPHYTA (green algae)
CHRYSOPHYTA (golden algae)
CYANOBACTERIA (blue-green algae)
PHAEOPHYTA (brown algae)
RHODOPHYTA (red algae)
Why are they important?
Algae are very important in the case that they are the primary producers of organic matter at the base of the food chain. They also produce oxygen that benefits aerobic organisms that live on land, water, air, and just about everywhere on earth, thus contributing greatly to the mass mortality of other organisms. They produce more oxygen than all the plants in the world combined! They are important in the formation of habitats such as tropical regions. Coraline algae are as important as corals in the formation of reefs and the common seaweeds are algae that provide oxygen for aquatic life that live in the marine environment. Algae are as important because they are used in our economic well being in the form of food, medicine, cosmetic, and other products. (oilgae and Hodge )
Who came up with the idea of biodiesel?
Rudolf Diesel (March 18, 1858-September 30, 1913) was a German inventor, credited with the creation of the Diesel engine. He first performed a demonstration showcasing his compression ignition engine at the World's Exhibition in Paris. The fuel he used in the engine was peanut oil, the first biodiesel. In 1911 to 1912, Rudolf Diesel stated that, "The diesel engine can be fed with vegetable oils and would help considerably in the development of agriculture of the countries which use it." Vegetable oils were used in Diesel's engines up to the 1920s when the engine was adjusted to run on petroleum diesel. Despite the success and tolerance of the diesel engine, biodiesel was not very well liked and accepted. Petroleum diesel became the fuel of choice for the diesel engine with its superior price, availability, and government funding. Diesel had also predicated that, "the use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become, in course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time." (Hermann & Pacific Biofuel)
Uses of Algae
Algae are use as an energy source such as biodiesel and biomass for heating and electricity when burned. It can be used as a fertilizer for agricultural purposes and a component in food. Algae can be used to produce hydrogen. It can be use for medical purposes and for getting rid of pollutants. It can also be used to test for water quality. (oilgae)
What is it?
Biodiesel is the term given for a clean burning substitutive fuel that is made from renewable resources. The good thing is that it contains no petroleum, but it could be mixed at any concentration with petroleum diesel to create a blend. It can be used in diesel engines with a few or no modifications at all. Biodiesel is biodegradable, which means it will decay quickly and it is nontoxic, which means it will not cause much harm. It is also very easy to use and fundamentally free of sulfur and aromatics, a class of organic chemical compounds that contain one or more rings of carbon atoms and undergo chemical reactions that are characteristic of benzene, a colorless toxic liquid obtained from petroleum. (Biodiesel)
Where was it first used?
Rudolf Diesel first used Biodiesel, made from peanut oil, in his compression ignition engine in 1900 at the World's Exhibition in France. Biodiesel then became the fuel source for Diesel's engine up to until the 1920s until petroleum made its entry. When was it first tested? Rudolf Diesel patented the compression engine on February 23rd, 1892 and finished his prototype early in 1897 while working at the Maschinenfabrik Plant in Augsburg, Germany. This allowed him to test his engine with peanut oil in 1898 and publicly in 1900. (Oilgae & Pacific Biofuel)
Why was it tested?
It took hundreds of millions of years for fossils to turn into petroleum oil. In 1859, Colonel Drake unleashed oil as he drilled the first oil well in Titusville, PA. Now that we're in the year 2008, we are running out of petroleum fuel, polluting the air supply, and adding to global warming. Inevitably we will run out of fossil fuels in less than 100 years says the optimistic. Other alternative fuels are destined to emerge and algae are one of them. (Hodge)
How is it made?
(See "Making Biodiesel")