Global auto major Mazda has revealed that it is currently involved in joint research projects and studies in Japan as part of an ongoing industry-academia-government collaboration to promote the wide-spread adoption of biofuels from microalgae. As part of its 'Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030' long-term technology development programme, the company is committed to reducing its average 'Well-to-Wheel' carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to 50 percent of 2010 levels by 2030, and to 90 percent by 2050.
Expecting that internal combustion engines (ICE) combined with some form of electrification will still account for some 95 percent of the vehicles it produces in 2030, and that liquid fuel will remain dominant in the automotive industry until at least 2040, Mazda considers a renewable liquid fuel “essential to drastic carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction.”
Because, when burnt, algae biofuel only releases CO2 recently removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis as the algae grew, Mazda considers its development to be critical to achieving the carbon-neutrality of cars powered by the ICE.
According to Mazda, microalgae-derived biofuel has numerous positive attributes as a renewable liquid fuel. Algae fuels can be farmed on land unsuitable for agriculture, can be grown with minimal impact on freshwater resources, can be produced using saline and wastewater, have a high flash point, and are biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment if spilled.
Boosting algae research
Improving productivity and reducing costs are fundamental to the widespread future availability of algae biofuels. To that end, Mazda is lending research-accelerating technical support to the combination of research into genome editing by Hiroshima University and plant physiology by the Tokyo Institute of Technology which is intended to lead to a breakthrough in these areas.
As part of the ‘Well-to-Wheel’ initiative, the company has developed a multi-solution approach to reduce overall CO2 emissions without any compromise to driving pleasure and performance to its vehicles. Its “Skyactiv” technologies such as i-STOP, Cylinder Deactivation and Mazda M Hybrid 24V mild-hybrid system are fitted as standard on selected models across the range, while the Mazda3 and CX-30 are offered with it’s “revolutionary” 2.0-litre 180ps Skyactiv-X Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) petrol engine.
The company will introduce EVs as the optimum environmentally-friendly solution to regions that generate electricity from clean energy sources or restrict certain vehicle types to reduce air pollution.