As the search for alternative fuels continues, researchers have examined hydrogen fuel cells, ethanol made from crops and electric vehicles. The latest alternative involves harvesting aquatic algae as a form of biodiesel.
Algae, which is comprised of nearly 50% oil, is a perfect candidate for being turned into fuel, according to Aftermarket Business. Many prominent oil companies, such as Chevron, have already begun research into the harvesting and sustainability of an algae-based industry. One start-up firm, PetroSun, has already begun operation of an oil-producing algae plant in Texas, which is expected to produce 4 million gallons of algae oil per year.
There are many benefits to using algae oil over other fuel types. Unlike modern fuels, the algae absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide that is released when the oil is burned, preventing additional greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. The algae-produced oil is also cost-efficient and is more affordable than current prices for oil. Finally, unlike electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cells, which require another source of energy to produce their fuels, algae gets its energy directly from the sun.
Algae fuel presents SEMA members with many opportunities. Providing a cheap alternative to current fuels could boost the automotive market and possibly reverse the downsizing trend in the economy. The rise in vehicle sales will likely grow sales for specialty equipment.
The cheap price of fuel could also decrease prices for parts and materials used to manufacture and produce specialty equipment, decreasing total costs and increasing profit margins.
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