News / Science & Technology

Researchers Test Algae Biofuel in Hong Kong

Researchers Test Algae Biofuel in Hong Kongi
X
March 05, 2014 2:41 PM
Hong Kong scientists testing micro algae to clean water waste and produce fuel. The technology is still too expensive to be broadly developed, but researchers are asking for the government's support in protecting homegrown biofuel against cheaper, foreign competition. Rebecca Valli reports from Hong Kong.
Researchers Test Algae Biofuel in Hong Kong
Scientists in Hong Kong are testing the use of micro algae to clean water waste and produce fuel.

The technology is still too expensive to be broadly developed, but researchers are asking for the government's support in protecting homegrown biofuel against cheaper, foreign competition.  

Environmental scientist Ho Kin-Chung from the Open University of Hong Kong says the process of turning algae into energy uses the intrinsic qualities of the plant.

“Algae contains a high quantity of oil and that amount effectively extracted can be refined into very good gasoline, as well as biodiesel and that would be economically very useful,” he said.

For decades, scientists have been looking into biofuels, which use plants as an energy source, as an alternative to petroleum-based fuel.

Despite the huge potential, there is some debate about the impact certain types of biofuel have on land and water resources.

Algae is seen as an attractive choice because it is easy to cultivate, doesn't require much land and can be grown in sea water without using agriculture and drinking water.

Ho says the technology is solid, but it is not yet cost effective. In the market, he says, algae biofuel has to compete with traditional fuels like petroleum or natural gas, which are 30 to 40 percent cheaper.

“We have to consider how to reduce costs, but if we are able to couple the fuel with the sewage treatment we can make it more attractive,” Ho said.

Algae feeds on nitrogen and phosphorous, nutrients which are in excess and need to be removed from waste water. In March, Ho plans tol apply for a $1.3 million grant from the government for a pilot scheme at a water waste treatment plant in Hong Kong.

“Algae is a good idea, but they have a long way to go," said Steve Choi, executive director of Dynamic Progress International, one of the first companies in Hong Kong to commercialize biofuels. "Also they need to change the genes, and you need mass production, in order to cut down the costs. Initially the product would be very expensive."

Dynamic Progress International has been making biodiesel from used cooking oil. At the moment, the company is testing energy-efficient stoves for the Hong Kong and Japanese market.

“Hong Kong can really help," Choi said. "It is a financial city so it is easy to raise money and it is transparent, but we need the support of the Hong Kong government, not just for the research, but a comprehensive program, funding, build a reputation, test the product, all this needs to be part of the program.”

With more than 200 million liters of fuel consumed every day, Choi says, the Hong Kong government should be the one to test local biofuels in its day-to-day operations.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: joyeall01 from: Chicago, IL
March 09, 2014 6:41 AM
Has not found any other alternative fuel energy.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs