A New Source for Sustainable Fuel?

The development of a new feedstock for biofuel called Azolla across Latin America is an interesting stage in the search for sustainability in agriculture. Azolla is an aquatic plan that can be grown in wastewater and can be used as a feedstock for the production of bioethanol. It can produce a substantial biomass quickly when planted in contaminated waters, and with its growth help to improve the quality of the waters itself by consuming chemicals. A study has shown that Azolla can “potentially produce up to 20.2 tons per hectare per year of bio-oil, and up to 48 tons per hectare per year of bio-char”. Azolla would be especially effective in a Latin American context, as by moving the production of bio-ethanol from arable land to wastewater, the reclaimed land can then be used for the development of further sustainable crops while continuing the production of bioethanol. Using Azolla as the primary foodstuff for bioethanol can lead to Latin America dramatically increasing its production of sustainable resources across the board through more efficient use of land. Adopting Azolla as a key crop would not only give Latin America an advantage in the biofuel market, it would be a great step forward in the quest for sustainability as a whole.