Mazda working on carbon-neutral biofuel

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Words: Nile Bijoux
6 Sep 2019

As Mazda prepares to launch its first electric vehicle onto the market, another division of the Japanese manufacturer is working on extending the life of the internal combustion engine. The latest idea? A carbon-neutral biofuel.

Mazda is providing funding to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, which is studying plant physiology, and Hiroshima University, which is looking at genome editing. Apparently, initial ideas that are gaining traction include growing biofuel from microalgae. It’s carbon-neutral because, when burnt, it releases CO2 that has been removed from the atmosphere through photosynthesis to grow the algae in the first place.

Microalgae can utilise land otherwise unsuitable for agriculture, require minimal water resources and the fuel produced is entirely biodegradable.

According to the US Department of Energy, if microalgae fuel replaced all petrol in the US, its growth would require an area of land equivalent to just 0.42 per cent of the American land mass. That equates to roughly 4.1 million square kilometres.

Mazda anticipates a gradual transition to biofuel, if that path is taken, with both fuels coexisting for a period until engineered fuel usurps petrol.

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