EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding your LinksDossier ‘Algae: the ultimate biofuel‘ and interview ‘EABA: Promises and challenges of algae biofuels‘:

There are more issues than just costs (which are mentioned in the interview). There is doubts about the net energy balance (energy needed to get the energy out) and serious concerns about the environment.

For some of the critical voices, see my post on my 3E Intelligence blog.

Willy de Backer

3E Intelligence

Author :


  1. It seems gentlemen and ladies that all the commentaries on this area of biofuel production utilising micro-algae developments rather than macro-algae. Whilst the major developments are – apparently – being directed to this area you have skirted over the macro-algae developments. These as you will be already aware are as near practically free of any lignin as micro-algae as the micro-algaes are, and it is this reason why they can be refined to produce such high quantities of refineable residues and ..biofuel Diesel petroleum/gasoline substitutes.

    It is also of interest that the discussions still refer to extracting the ‘oil’ fraction from the algaes when the potential to exact other fuel products, which are currently on offer from ‘ligno-cellulosic’ routes such as the ethanol’ or butanol route and the HMF or levulinic Acid route are equally as valid. Yes I agree that the expensive procedures of the GTL and the enzymatic processes and the comparators are expensive and appear to be more of a parasitic embellishment to the egos of the sponsors who gain more credence for spending huge amounts of research money (and then making equally huge blunders) rather than rather than go for projects that have developed through the traditional routes. Such is that currently coming to the market place utilising the very real developments of dilute acid hydrolysis without geo-engineered organisms as developed through the use of improved operational tangibles using the patented gravity pressure vessel developed by Genesyst and now being exploited in Holland the UK and Viet Nam and the USA is a reality. this is the now situation.

    We use transportation fuels (derived from King Oil) such as Diesel and petrol/gasoline as a matter of right or course. Most people forget though that this industry was equally a ‘fledging one’ and had it not been for the persistence of the various ‘oil magnates’ and their bullying of Governments in the early 1900s and in the run up to and in the First World War when nearly all the oil in the area was ‘owned’ (in reality taken) by European Countries as an asset and was effectively operated as Nationalised Companies owned by Governments – Anglo-Persian was such. The subsidies passed to oil companies over the years have been huge and totally out of court. (Yet even today they (today’s mega-rich Oil Companies) belly-ache over the costs of, for example, the price associated with carbon sequestering and storage systems brazenly seeking the European Union and other Gullible Countries and Governments to Finance and Subsidise these projects knowing full well that they can finance them from their own accounts!)

    What seems though to be at issue in this long-overdue debate about future oil use and its substitute is that the Oil Companies are so large that they have got the World over a Barrel so to speak. We need all forms of Non-Fossil fuels to be developed and indeed some of these developments will fail. I doubt though that the use of Macro-Algae will so fail and you in your reports might look again in this direction.

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