Large scale production of algal biofuels is currently unsustainable, says new report

A new report by the National Research Council in the US has raised concerns regarding the viability of algal biofuels. According to the report, using current technologies, even scaling up production to meet 5% of the US’s transportation fuel needs would cause serious problems. While the energy required to make the biofuel is less than the energy produced, the amount of water and nutrients needed currently means that the technology is a non-starter.

In 1996, the US Department of Energy halted funding to algal biofuels after coming to the conclusion that they would never compete on a financially sound footing with petroleum. The new report suggests that this is still true; however, it does stress that future research and development could one day make filling up with algal biofuels a reality.