Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Trends Biotechnol. 2014 Mar;32(3):117-24. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.01.004. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Diatoms: a fossil fuel of the future.

Author information

1
Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. Electronic address: levitan@marine.rutgers.edu.
2
Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. Electronic address: jotadin@gmail.com.
3
Department of Agriculture, Food & Resource Economics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
4
Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA; Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 0885, USA.

Abstract

Long-term global climate change, caused by burning petroleum and other fossil fuels, has motivated an urgent need to develop renewable, carbon-neutral, economically viable alternatives to displace petroleum using existing infrastructure. Algal feedstocks are promising candidate replacements as a 'drop-in' fuel. Here, we focus on a specific algal taxon, diatoms, to become the fossil fuel of the future. We summarize past attempts to obtain suitable diatom strains, propose future directions for their genetic manipulation, and offer biotechnological pathways to improve yield. We calculate that the yields obtained by using diatoms as a production platform are theoretically sufficient to satisfy the total oil consumption of the US, using between 3 and 5% of its land area.

KEYWORDS:

Energy Return (On) Investment; biofuel; biomass; diatoms; lipids; productivity

PMID:
24529448
DOI:
10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.01.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center