If you’re wondering what’s happening in the bio-fuel space, you’re not alone. The collapse of the ethanol market has seen producers constrain their production, shut down plants, and shelve plans for new plants. The problem? Someone finally did the math.
Click the chart to the right to enlarge; it’s pretty clear that algae is the only feedstock that carries real hope for breaking our dependence on foreign oil using conventional combustion engines (other opportunities are available if large portions of the transport segment shift to electricity for instance – which then causes some difficulty on the generation and distribution of power, but I digress.) This handy chart was compiled by the University of Washington.
As you can see, corn-based ethanol is perhaps the worst alternative for bio-fuel, which explains why everyone flocked to it (that and the fact that the US grows a bunch of corn.) Sugarcane has it’s charms as do Rapeseed and Canola. But algae is the champ of a tough market. What this chart says to me is that combustion engines aren’t the future for transport. We’ll have to find another fuel source for locomotion.