Centuries of over-reliance have severely diminished the supply of fossil fuels. Marine Phycology Professor, Michael Borowitzka at Murdoch University is exploring alternative fuel and energy options. The focus of his research is the mass production of algae to produce bio-energy and bio-fuels. Professor Borowitzka helped establish a pilot plant in Karratha, Western Australia. The plant's purpose is to turn micro-algae into bio-fuel.
Professor Michael Borowitzka PhD, FAICD Dip, Algae Researcher]
"The last two years it [algae] has been tested on a large scale in karratha which is in the kind of environment, which is the optimum for growing the algae weed expected to have a production plant"
The combined Government and bio-industry venture considers the viability of growing large quantities of algae for energy and fuel production. In essence, this involves turning organic carbon/ into energy.
Prof. Michael Borowitzka PhD, FAICD Dip, Professor of Phycology and Director, Algae R&D Centre, Murdoch University]
"the greatest benefit of algae is that you need a small area to grow them, than any other kind of oils crops like canola, palm oil or so on, you can grow them using sea water or even salty water, so you are not competing for fresh water, which is more needed for agriculture for producing food"
The algae is grown on mass, mostly near large manufacturing plants. The value of this 'pond scum' lies in the great amounts of carbon dioxide that it draws from the air.
Though obstacles to the development of bio-fuel and energy certainly exist; the use of this technology could be just around the corner.
"There are still many challenges, I don't expect to be going down to the local petrol station and buying algae fuel in the next 10 years or so, but in the long run there are a lot of people around the world working on this, we are not going to have all the answers but together with all the people we should find the solutions to the problem"