A number of researchers and companies are currently focusing on using algae to produce ethanol, currently produced in the US from corn, with over 13 billion gallons produced in 2010. Most ethanol is blended into gasoline, and then sold at a 10 percent level referred to as E10.
E85– a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent traditional gasoline is an alternative fuel designed for use in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). There are more than 8.5 million FFVs on America’s roads today.
Ethanol can be produced by genetically modified algae designed to directly excrete this fuel. Algenol Biofuels has broken ground on a 36-acre integrated biorefinery in Florida that will produce up to 100,000 gallons of algae-based ethanol each year. Another approach is to grow algae that produce high amounts of starch that could be fermented into ethanol (similar to how corn-based ethanol is produced).
Another alcohol fuel from biomass is butanol, and the related iso-butanol, which are attracting considerable attention. Butanol production from seaweeds is being pursued by several research groups, including one created as a joint venture of DuPont and Bio Architecture Lab, Inc., in Berkeley, California, under an $8.8 million Department of Energy grant.
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