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Algae and Land: A Few Acres Yield A Lot of Fuel

One of the key advantages of using algae to make gasoline, diesel or jet fuel is that the organisms require very little land to produce meaningful quantities of oil.

Algae are probably the most efficient organisms known when it comes to converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into biomass. That biomass includes oils and carbohydrates that are used in today’s algae industry to create fuels, feed, plastics and other products.

Algae grow incredibly fast and can be harvested year round, unlike other crops that can be harvested seasonally. An acre of corn might see one or two harvests in a year. An acre of algae can be harvested dozens of times a year.

Furthermore, algae thrive in conditions other plants find intolerable. This means algae farms can be placed on land that is unsuitable for other crops, such as a desert, and won’t compete with our food production.

Perhaps most important is the yield we can get from an acre of algae. While most other crops can yield anywhere from 50-250 gallons of fuel per acre per year, algae can yield 2,000 – 5,000 acres of fuel per year. Many researchers expect that figure will grow as technology and production capacity improve.

Keep in mind, none of the fuel from algae needs to replace corn or other crop production, because algae can grow on land or in seawater where no other agricultural crops grow.

The advantages algae have with respect to land use are enormous, and make the prospect of algae fuels well worth pursuing. However, it is only one of the advantages unique to these organisms; you can find more at

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