Mazda continues supporting algae biofuels research – Green Car Congress

Mazda continues to be involved in joint research projects and studies as part of an ongoing industry-academia-government collaboration to promote the wide-spread adoption of biofuels from microalgae growth. (Earlier post.)

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As part of its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 long-term technology development program, the company is committed to reducing its average Well-to-Wheel CO2 emissions to 50% of 2010 levels by 2030, and to 90% by 2050.

Expecting that internal combustion engines combined with some form of electrification will still account for some 95% 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 steep reductions in CO2.

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 internal combustion engine.

Microalgae 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.

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 long-time academic partner Hiroshima University and plant physiology by the Tokyo Institute of Technology which is intended to lead to a breakthrough in these areas.

In 2018, Mazda joined the Hiroshima “Your Green Fuel” Project, a demonstration project for next-generation biofuels jointly run by the Hiroshima Council for the Promotion of Collaboration between Government, Academia and the Automobile Industry and Euglena Co., Ltd. In collaboration with Euglena’s Made-in-Japan Biofuels Project, this project aims to promote the spread of biofuels and establish a model for revitalizing regional areas by retaining the entire biofuel value chain—from the manufacture and supply of raw materials through to fuel use—within the Hiroshima area.

Specifically, the project promotes the production of biofuels from oils derived from microalgae or used cooking oil and encourages the use of such biofuels in passenger cars in Hiroshima. The project is also planning research into cultivating microalgae using CO2 emitted by Hiroshima-based businesses as well as algal residue-based fertilizers and feed for use in the agriculture, livestock and fishery industries. These initiatives
will be launched in phases by around 2020.

As part of its Well-to-Wheel initiative, Mazda has developed a multi-solution approach to reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions without any compromise to driving pleasure and performance to its vehicles.

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 (earlier post) are offered with Mazda’s advanced 2.0-liter 180ps Skyactiv-X Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) gasoline engine. (Earlier post.)

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. The new all-electric Mazda MX-30 First Edition features an AC synchronous electric motor and a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery that allows for rapid charging up to 50KW.

With its freestyle doors, ecological materials and right-sized battery giving a range of approximately 125 miles, exceeding the 30-mile average daily drive of the European customer, the Mazda MX-30 marks another step in Mazda’s multi-solution approach to reducing emissions following the recent arrival of the innovative Skyactiv-X engine.

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