Why Third Generation Biofuel?

Third generation biofuels, and more specifically algae, have many attractive qualities that result in it being a reasonably viable future option for transportation fuels. The following is a list of some of the many benefits associated with using third generation biofuels.

  • Helps alleviate issues from land use for biofuel feed stock (First Generation)
  • Most types require carbon dioxide to grow which can assist in reducing green house gas emissions (i.e. utilization of waste CO2 from industrial applications)(sequestration)
  • Byproducts can be utilized:
    • Proteins can be used for animal feed
    • Certain strains of microalgae can produce compounds for pharmaceutical, pigment, and plastic industry. (Slade)
  • Algae grows incredibly fast (20-30 X quicker than food) (Ullah)
  • Versatile growing, ability to be grown in/on unfriendly environments (i.e. wastewater, saltwater)
  •  Require less water use than other biofuel feedstocks
  • Versatility of  conversion: can be converted into multiple fuel types (i.e. ethanol, biodiesel, etc.)
  • High energy content compared to surface area
  • Can be genetically modified to be produce higher lipid content in order to gain higher fuel conversion yields.
Figure 1.


Greenhouse gas emissions are a large problem when considering the general category of transportation fuels.  Figure 1. shows a general diagram of the overall process from start to finish of third generation biofuels. The diagram specifically highlights how third generation  biofuels can act as an integral part of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.


(Composed by Eli Karp, edited by Robert King)


Slade, R., & Bauen, A. (2013). Micro-algae cultivation for biofuels: Cost, energy balance, environmental impacts and future prospects. Biomass and Bioenergy, 53, 29-38. Retrieved May 4, 2015.

Ullah et al., K. (2014). Assessing the potential of algal biomass opportunities for bioenergy industry: A review. Fuel, 143, 414-423.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By Eli Karp, Robert King, Tien Tran, and Matthew Schmitt