Biofuel Development

The Ford Flexifuel VehicleCould Algae be a potential Bio-Fuel?

Ford is looking into alternative fuels to power their vehicles. Ford researchers are working hard to understand if algae could be a potential sustainable resource in the production of bio-fuels for the auto industry.

The way it works is that the characteristics of algae gives it potential to be a bio-fuel feedstock and certain types of algae have the ability to efficiently convert carbon dioxide to oil, carbohydrates and other cell components through photosynthesis. Also algae can be grown in a vast number of differing environments including fresh or saline water. Algae has the ability to double in volume daily and be collected year-round, a distinct advantage over other bio-fuel feedstock such as soybeans and corn, which commonly produce just one harvest over the year. 

Currently, the algae researchers are looking for economical and sustainable ways to develop commercial-scale production and the maintenance of high oil-producing algae. The main benefit of using bio-fuels over fossil fuels will be found in the ability to stop relying on the fossil fuel producers and then produce bio-fuel from a renewable resource.

Ford wants to continue to give customers the ability to choose by supporting increased availability of bio-fuels and bio-fuel blends from diverse and sustainable sources and design vehicle power plants that are capable of using these sustainable bio-fuels. 
Between 2006 and 2010, Ford has doubled the number of flexible fuel vehicles, which can run on petrol, or E85 ethanol that has been produced in the U.S.

Ford has more than 5 million E85 capable vehicles on the road throughout the world and offers more than a dozen vehicle models with that capability.

Ford researchers will continue to monitor other research on algae as a potential feedstock for the long-term, while continuing their internal work with the more current and midterm bio-fuel based solutions. These include ethanol and butanol, manufactured from stalks, leaves and other woody matter feedstock.

June 2013


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