Shell to produce biofuels from algae

24-12-2007 | |

Shell is to become the first major oil company to produce diesel fuel from marine algae, New Scientist reports.

Algae are a climate-friendly way to make fuel from carbon dioxide. They produce oil that can readily be converted to diesel, and can be fed CO2 directly from smokestacks. Unlike biofuels such as corn, they don’t use up soil or water that could otherwise be used to grow food, which can pump up food prices.

Pilot plant Hawaii
The US government abandoned research on algal biofuel in the 1990s because of the low cost of crude oil. But as oil and food prices began to rise, small algal fuel producers sprang up. Shell plans to begin construction on a pilot plant in Hawaii immediately, which it expects will produce 15 times as much oil for a given area as other biofuel crops, thanks to the efficiency of algal photosynthesis.

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