Report: Algae industry can improve sustainability

By Staff | November 20, 2012

The National Research Council has published a report, noting that algae-based biofuel production could place unstable demands on energy, water and nutrients if capacity reaches 39 billion liters (10.3 billion gallons), or approximately 5 percent of the U.S. transportation fuel market.

The report, titled “Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels in the United States,” named five specific areas that the NRC considers to be concerns of high importance. They include water usage and requirements, nutrient supply, land area requirements, energy return on investment, and life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions.

The Algae Biomass Organization has applauded the reports finding that these sustainability concerns are not a barrier to future growth of the algae industry. The organization also said that the five areas highlighted as primary concerns in the report are already being addressed by researchers and algal biofuel producers. For example, companies are already recycling nutrients, producing biobased methane from residual organics and using production designs to minimize energy use.