It is a known fact that the fuel supply is not as vast as it used to be and the damage it has been doing to the environment and the world we live in is not as commendable as well. Fortunately, our scientists never fail to discover and come up with alternative ways to counter the growing and never-ending issues of fuel. With non-stop research and studies, it is not impossible that we would be using alternative oils in the next few years. There is an impressive list of sources of alternative oils, and one of these sources is the alga.
An alga is interesting scientists and researchers because it is one of the alternatives that are not hard to produce and environment-friendly as well. The length of time in producing algae fuel may take quite a while, but with continued studies and development, it is very likely that producing algae fuel will be one of the most favored in the oil industry.
The number of people fascinated by the many benefits of producing algae oil is growing. One can start producing algae oil even in his own backyard, and the cost of producing it is not even expensive. One just needs to have knowledge on how to grow algae and extract oil from it. Manufacturing algae oil from your own backyard can also generate additional income, another inviting factor why many are interested in learning the systematic process of manufacturing algae oil. To give you an idea on how it is done, below are the steps on how to grow algae, to extract oil from it, and how to profit from this alternative oil.
In producing algae fuel, you will need the following: fertilizer, water, fish tank, air pump, filtering material or fine screen, tray, mortar and pestle, presser or juicer, electric mixer, sodium hydroxide, methanol, pipette tool, weighing scales and other measuring tools, containers, and a timer. You also must wear gloves and mask especially when mixing with chemicals.
1. First and foremost, research about algae. Algae are of wide variety. There are almost 60,000 species to choose from and each has its own characteristics, properties, and uses. It is important to learn the different advantages and disadvantages of these algae, and which among the algae family can come up with a large quantity of oil. There are algae species that produces more oil, whilst there are some which produce just a little. There are also algae species that grows faster than other kinds of algae. Take also into consideration the temperature of your backyard, light, and water condition. The best type of algae must also be compatible with the climate where you will grow the plant. If you are trying to make a profit out of algae fuel, look for one that has a relatively high quantity of oil. The large quantity of oil extracted from these algae will definitely be enough to meet the demands of your possible market.
2. Once the variety of algae is identified, it is now time to find the perfect spot in the backyard where you will grow it. A place where there is sufficient sunlight is ideal for growing algae to allow it to undergo photosynthesis. It is during the process of photosynthesis where the algae cells metabolize the sugars into oil. To grow algae in the backyard is easy since it is low in maintenance and only demands sufficient sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to thrive.
3. To have healthy and fast-growing algae, a nutritional fertilizer is an effective aid. It is also important to identify first which of the fertilizers being sold in the market is compatible with the algae you are growing. It may take time to get the right amount of fertilizer to use, or which fertilizer is best to use in growing algae, but the experimental stage is worth it. Once the right fertilizer is identified and the correct amount is achieved, a higher quantity of oil is likely to produce.
4. Just like any other plant, carbon dioxide is one of the major requirements in growing algae. The use of an air pump will sufficiently supply algae of the carbon dioxide it needs. Activate and connect the air pump so to provide a constant supply of carbon dioxide to the water where the algae will thrive.
5. Now that the algae, fertilizer, and air pump are ready, it is time to prepare the fish tank and proceed with growing the algae. Put the water and fertilizer in the fish tank. Connect the air pump to the fish tank that will serve as a carbon dioxide supplier. Now that the fish tank and the air pump are ready, it is time to add the algae. Again, the right amount of algae and the length of producing it are worthy to be experimented until you arrive to the correct procedure that will yield to the high quantity of oil. First, experiment on growing algae for three days, then proceed with the experiment for five days, then for a week or two, until you are able to determine which of these produces the highest amount of oil.
6. After several days of growing the algae, you may now filter the water and separate the algae from it. In filtering, you might want to just use your hands or use a fine screen or filter material to ease the procedure. Make sure all water is filtered from the algae. This step prepares the algae to the next step which is the drying process. Less amount of water in the algae will definitely make the drying process faster.
7. After the water has been thoroughly filtered, place the algae on a flat container or a tray. Make sure to evenly spread the algae for complete drying and allowing the air to pass through. Put the tray outside where it gets enough sun. The heat of the sun is the best way to thoroughly make the water evaporate from the algae. Check the algae every now and then.
8. Once it is completely dry, grind the dried algae using a mortar and pestle until it arrives to small bits and a powder-like consistency. The powder-like consistency will do the extracting of oil from the algae faster and easier.
9. Using a juicer, extract the oil from the powdered algae. You may also use a presser to extract the oil. The pressing process is also similar to manually extract olive oil from olives. The juicer and the press method extract up to 75% of oil from the algae. For some, the combined method of the juicer or press and hexane solvent is more efficient. First, the juicer or the presser extract oil, then the leftover algae is combined with hexane solvent, dried and cleaned again for extracting. The press and hexane solvent combination come up with 95% of algae oil. Another method known as supercritical fluid method extracts almost 100% of oil from algae. It makes use of carbon dioxide and some laboratory equipment to do it, making it the least popular method among the three. Once the algae are all pressed, it may be stored for future use, like as animal feeds for example.
10. It is now time to weigh how much oil was able to produce. In weighing, use a container that is not too heavy and with a size that is just right for the extracted oil. Weigh the container first and take note of its weight. Pour the extracted oil to the container and note again its weight. Deduct the weight of the container to determine the weight of the oil. Ideally, three grams of oil are extracted from every 10 grams of dried algae. The weight of the extracted oil must be anywhere near that measurement. Let it stand for a while in preparation for the next procedure.
11. The next step involves refining the algae oil that makes use of catalyst such as sodium hydroxide and alcohol such as methanol. This step is important for it is where the glycerin is also formed, but must be removed. Using a glass or metal container, mix .25 grams of sodium hydroxide and 24ml methanol. Stir the mixture using a magnetic stirrer for 20 minutes. After stirring, take three grams of extracting algae oil and combine it with the sodium hydroxide and methanol mixture. This procedure is known as the transesterification process. Transesterification is the process of producing bodies as well as glycerol (which will be removed, as mentioned earlier). Transesterification breaks down the molecules of vegetable oils, in this case the algae oil, into constituent molecules forming bodies as the major product and glycerol as the secondary product. If higher quantity of algae oil is to be transesterified, the quantity of sodium hydroxide and methanol mixture must be adjusted. Example, for every 6 grams of algae oil, use .5 grams of sodium hydroxide and 48 ml of methanol; 9 grams of algae oil, use .75 grams of sodium hydroxide and 72ml of methanol; and so on.
12. Transfer the mixture to a container that is suitable for an electric shaker. Shake the mixture using the electric shaker for three hours in 300 RPM speed. After three hours is complete, let the mixture stand for 16 hours. Make sure that the area where the mixture will be stored is clean to avoid contamination.
13. After 16 hours, you will notice that a top layer was formed in the oil mixture. Using a pipette tool, remove the top layer until only the oil mixture is left. Secure the “cleaned” oil mixture in a container with an airtight cover. You have now successfully produced a fuel out of algae.
14. If you are planning to profit from algae fuel, it is important to trace back the cost of every material and component used in producing 3 grams of algae oil. Consider also the cost of labor and the cost of electricity used in coming up with the finished product. Once you were able to come up with the cost and materials of producing 3 grams of algae oil, it is easy to adjust the cost to the actual weight (in grams) of all oils produced. From there, determine the cost of the exact grams you want it sold, then add the cost of the packaging and label of your algae fuel. From there, come up with a mark-up to determine your selling price.
When marketing your algae fuel, better be armed with answers to questions that you might encounter while selling your alternative oil. Even if the use of algae fuel is making a buzz already, not everybody is aware of its existence, nature, and use. Make the market and the consumers aware of what the benefits of using algae fuel are, make a list of advantages over other oils, and come up with an attractive package and selling price that will make your buyers patronize your algae fuel. Make them realize why this alternative oil is better and why they must continue using it. Also, continue in developing and improving your manner of production for future demands. Come up with plans and alternative procedures on how you can address the needs of your consumers and the way you can address their demands in a faster pace.
With the high prices of gas that lead to long lines at the gas stations as well as affecting consumer and basic goods, and the dwindling state of our environment caused by the pollution gas is contributing, the search for an alternative fuel promises to ease the growing crisis. Algae have been found to be very feasible in producing large amounts of oil enough to be used for home and transportation purposes. In addition, with its many benefits, the algae fuel is seen as a very lucrative business. If you are planning to profit from it, better start now and profit from this alternative oil in your own backyard.