Researchers at the University of Michigan are finding a new method to create renewable diesel fuel from algae. A brand new $2 million grant from the Department of Energy can help those researchers successfully develop a way to harvest algae and turn it into fuel that doesn’t contribute to global climate change.

Algae are often grown in vats, and those vats are often placed pretty much anywhere. Algae are cheaper and quicker to grow than either corn or soybeans, making it ideal for changing into fuel. And of course, no one eats algae. The only reason we don’t presently use algae to create bio diesel is because no one has ever discovered the way to do it.

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The University of Michigan researchers that received the grant can check multiple species of algae to seek out those that best produce the oil the scientists need to make fuel. Once they’ve zeroed in on the kind of algae they’re going to use, the researchers can explore how best to turn that algae into superior diesel.

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Their goal is to make a fuel that runs better than normal diesel while contributing much less pollution and greenhouse emission into the atmosphere. Specifically, they hope to make a fuel that minimizes soot in the engine, increases powertrain efficiency, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by sixty percent.

The biggest challenge for the researchers right now is developing algae which will thrive in outdoor conditions. Growing algae in outdoor tanks is best for scaling this technology, however, it makes it tougher for those algae species to survive. However, if these researchers can make a breakthrough in this area, it might help United States begin to replace fossil fuels with something more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.