Lootah Biofuels is planning to start a project in Dubai to extract biofuel from algae, after signing an agreement with Singapore-based AlgaOil Ltd.
The project will involve open-air ponds for the large-scale production of algae. The two companies will combine their research and development expertise into micro-algae, converting it into a new raw material high in oil content for production of biofuels.
According to the CEO of Lootah Biofuels, Yousif Bin Saeed Al Lootah, his company will provide the project with all the necessary local help to fast-track completion.
It is expected that after the initial start-up, algae oil mass production will start in Dubai after six-to-18 months.
“In line with UAE’s vision for sustainable development, this project aims at developing alternate ways of extracting new raw material for biofuels," said Lootah.
"We believe that algae can be a good replacement for vegetable oil-based biofuel. We are in no doubt that this partnership will take biofuel production in the region to the next level.”
Biofuels extracted from sugars or vegetable oils found in arable crops are considered first-generation biofuels, while extraction from woody plant matter is second generation.
Third generation biofuels derived from microalgae are considered to be a viable alternative energy resource that is devoid of the major drawbacks associated with first and second generation biofuels.
Unlike arable crops, algae can grow in wastewater, and do not affect the land or freshwater needed to produce current food and fuel crops.
Moreover, compared with other feedstocks, algae can produce more oil per hectare. According to AlgaOil, growing algae allows a yearly production of 100 barrels of oil per hectare, while palm oil produces 32 barrels per hectare, soy beans roughly 2.5 barrels, and corn just 0.9 barrels per hectare.