This research investigates algae as a feedstock for producing liquid fuels for the light vehicle sector. It is in the interest of national economic security to investigate alternative sources of transportation energy before the extraction of existing supplies becomes prohibitively expensive. Biofuels are one such alternative liquid fuel supply. The research used the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) approach for evaluating the production of biodiesel fuel from algae as a feedstock, including processes for growing algae in conventional and accelerated processes in bioreactors. An energy return on investment and comparison with conventional fuels (gasoline, diesel fuel) on an LCA basis and on a resource consumption basis (e.g., land, water, feedstock) is also presented. The results are reported for required land use, water use, input-to-output energy ratio, and carbon emissions for algacultural biodiesel fuel. From the present study it appears that algae-derived biodiesel fuel requires significantly less land, water and energy than do all other biodiesel fuels. It would appear prudent for the US to vigorously pursue this option since a significant fraction of US light vehicle fuel needs can be addressed.

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