Speaker: Associate Professor Ben Hankamer (Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland)
Date: 21st May 2010
The development of CO2-neutral fuels for the future is one of the most urgent challenges that must be addressed if the international community is to minimize the effects of climate change, protect against fuel price shocks and provide a secure basis for future economic growth. Currently ~67% of the worlds energy supply is in the form of fuels with electricity accounting for ~33%.
Microalgal biofuel systems have considerable potential for future fuel production. Using advanced bioreactor systems, improved light to fuel conversion efficiencies can theoretically be achieved, beyond those attainable with traditional crop plants. Furthermore such systems can be located on non arable land, effectively eliminating ‘food vs fuel’ concerns surrounding 1st generation biofuels (e.g. corn to ethanol). Microalgal systems can also be used for C-sequestration. The hard question facing scientists is whether such systems can be economically viable, technically feasible and established on a sensible scale. In this context the work of the Solar Biofuels Consortium (www.solarbiofuels.org) will be presented at the level of economic modelling, bioreactor design, optimizing light capture efficiency and process optimization.