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The productivity of the tank on LED to the strain Scenedesmus sp. Related Articles:. Antonio Oscar Jr. Date: August 4, Date: June 25, Date: April 29, Algal oil is used as a source of fatty acid supplementation in food products, as it contains mono- and polyunsaturated fats , in particular EPA and DHA.

Algae can be converted into various types of fuels, depending on the technique and the part of the cells used. The lipid , or oily part of the algae biomass can be extracted and converted into biodiesel through a process similar to that used for any other vegetable oil, or converted in a refinery into "drop-in" replacements for petroleum-based fuels. Alternatively or following lipid extraction, the carbohydrate content of algae can be fermented into bioethanol or butanol fuel. Biodiesel is a diesel fuel derived from animal or plant lipids oils and fats.

This oil can then be turned into biodiesel which could be sold for use in automobiles. Regional production of microalgae and processing into biofuels will provide economic benefits to rural communities. As they do not have to produce structural compounds such as cellulose for leaves, stems, or roots, and because they can be grown floating in a rich nutritional medium, microalgae can have faster growth rates than terrestrial crops. Also, they can convert a much higher fraction of their biomass to oil than conventional crops, e. The U. Department of Energy's Aquatic Species Program , —, focused on biodiesel from microalgae.

The final report suggested that biodiesel could be the only viable method by which to produce enough fuel to replace current world diesel usage. Butanol can be made from algae or diatoms using only a solar powered biorefinery. In most gasoline engines, butanol can be used in place of gasoline with no modifications. In several tests, butanol consumption is similar to that of gasoline, and when blended with gasoline, provides better performance and corrosion resistance than that of ethanol or E The green waste left over from the algae oil extraction can be used to produce butanol.

In addition, it has been shown that macroalgae seaweeds can be fermented by bacteria of genus Clostridia to butanol and other solvents. Biogasoline is gasoline produced from biomass. Like traditionally produced gasoline, it contains between 6 hexane and 12 dodecane carbon atoms per molecule and can be used in internal-combustion engines. Methane , [57] the main constituent of natural gas can be produced from algae in various methods, namely gasification , pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion.

In gasification and pyrolysis methods methane is extracted under high temperature and pressure. Anaerobic digestion [58] is a straightforward method involved in decomposition of algae into simple components then transforming it into fatty acids using microbes like acidogenic bacteria followed by removing any solid particles and finally adding methanogenic bacteria to release a gas mixture containing methane. A number of studies have successfully shown that biomass from microalgae can be converted into biogas via anaerobic digestion.

The Algenol system which is being commercialized by BioFields in Puerto Libertad , Sonora , Mexico utilizes seawater and industrial exhaust to produce ethanol. Porphyridium cruentum also have shown to be potentially suitable for ethanol production due to its capacity for accumulating large amount of carbohydrates. Algae can be used to produce ' green diesel ' also known as renewable diesel, hydrotreating vegetable oil [66] or hydrogen-derived renewable diesel [67] through a hydrotreating refinery process that breaks molecules down into shorter hydrocarbon chains used in diesel engines.

It has yet to be produced at a cost that is competitive with petroleum. In this regard, the work of Crocker et al. For oil refining, research is underway for catalytic conversion of renewable fuels by decarboxylation. Hence, one of the critical technical challenges to make the hydrodeoxygenation of algae oil process economically feasible is related to the research and development of effective catalysts. Trials of using algae as biofuel were carried out by Lufthansa , and Virgin Airlines as early as , although there is little evidence that using algae is a reasonable source for jet biofuels.

Research into algae for the mass-production of oil focuses mainly on microalgae organisms capable of photosynthesis that are less than 0. The preference for microalgae has come about due largely to their less complex structure, fast growth rates, and high oil-content for some species. However, some research is being done into using seaweeds for biofuels, probably due to the high availability of this resource. As of [update] researchers across various locations worldwide have started investigating the following species for their suitability as a mass oil-producers: [80] [81] [82].

The amount of oil each strain of algae produces varies widely. Note the following microalgae and their various oil yields:. In addition, due to its high growth-rate, Ulva [86] has been investigated as a fuel for use in the SOFT cycle , SOFT stands for Solar Oxygen Fuel Turbine , a closed-cycle power-generation system suitable for use in arid, subtropical regions. Other species used include Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum , [88] Sargassum , Gracilaria , Prymnesium parvum , and Euglena gracilis.

Light is what algae primarily need for growth as it is the most limiting factor. Many companies are investing for developing systems and technologies for providing artificial light. One of them is OriginOil that has developed a Helix BioReactorTM that features a rotating vertical shaft with low-energy lights arranged in a helix pattern.

Although most algae grow at low rate when the water temperature gets lower, the biomass of algal communities can get large due to the absence of grazing organisms. Other than light and water, phosphorus, nitrogen, and certain micronutrients are also useful and essential in growing algae.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two most significant nutrients required for algal productivity, but other nutrients such as carbon and silica are additionally required. The microalgae D. However, due to their complexity in the process of generation and high cost, they are not used for large-scale culture operations. Algae grow much faster than food crops, and can produce hundreds of times more oil per unit area than conventional crops such as rapeseed, palms, soybeans, or jatropha.

The lack of equipment and structures needed to begin growing algae in large quantities has inhibited widespread mass-production of algae for biofuel production. Maximum use of existing agriculture processes and hardware is the goal. Closed systems not exposed to open air avoid the problem of contamination by other organisms blown in by the air. The problem for a closed system is finding a cheap source of sterile CO 2.


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Several experimenters have found the CO 2 from a smokestack works well for growing algae. Most companies pursuing algae as a source of biofuels pump nutrient -rich water through plastic or borosilicate glass tubes called " bioreactors " that are exposed to sunlight and so-called photobioreactors or PBR.

Running a PBR is more difficult than using an open pond, and costlier, but may provide a higher level of control and productivity. Open pond systems consist of simple in ground ponds, which are often mixed by a paddle wheel. These systems have low power requirements, operating costs, and capital costs when compared to closed loop photobioreactor systems.

The Algae scrubber is a system designed primarily for cleaning nutrients and pollutants out of water using algal turfs. ATS mimics the algal turfs of a natural coral reef by taking in nutrient rich water from waste streams or natural water sources, and pulsing it over a sloped surface. Once the algae has been established, it can be harvested every 5—15 days, [] and can produce 18 metric tons of algal biomass per hectare per year. As such, the lipid content of the algae in an ATS system is usually lower, which makes it more suitable for a fermented fuel product, such as ethanol, methane, or butanol.

There are three major advantages of ATS over other systems. The first advantage is documented higher productivity over open pond systems.

Algae fuel

The third is the elimination of contamination issues due to the reliance on naturally occurring algae species. After harvesting the algae, the biomass is typically processed in a series of steps, which can differ based on the species and desired product; this is an active area of research [44] and also is the bottleneck of this technology: the cost of extraction is higher than those obtained.

One of the solutions is to use filter feeders to "eat" them. Improved animals can provide both foods and fuels. An alternative method to extract the algae is to grow the algae with specific types of fungi. This causes bio-flocculation of the algae which allows for easier extraction.


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  4. Often, the algae is dehydrated, and then a solvent such as hexane is used to extract energy-rich compounds like triglycerides from the dried material. For example, the extracted triglycerides are reacted with methanol to create biodiesel via transesterification. Products include crude oil, which can be further refined into aviation fuel, gasoline, or diesel fuel using one or many upgrading processes. Other outputs include clean water, fuel gas and nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nutrients like nitrogen N , phosphorus P , and potassium K , are important for plant growth and are essential parts of fertilizer.

    Silica and iron, as well as several trace elements, may also be considered important marine nutrients as the lack of one can limit the growth of, or productivity in, an area. Bubbling CO 2 through algal cultivation systems can greatly increase productivity and yield up to a saturation point. Typically, about 1. Each tonne of microalgae absorbs two tonnes of CO 2. Scottish Bioenergy, who run the project, sell the microalgae as high value, protein-rich food for fisheries.

    In the future, they will use the algae residues to produce renewable energy through anaerobic digestion. Nitrogen is a valuable substrate that can be utilized in algal growth.

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    Various sources of nitrogen can be used as a nutrient for algae, with varying capacities. Nitrate was found to be the preferred source of nitrogen, in regards to amount of biomass grown. Urea is a readily available source that shows comparable results, making it an economical substitute for nitrogen source in large scale culturing of algae. In one study [] nitrogen deprivation for 72 hours caused the total fatty acid content on a per cell basis to increase by 2. It is vital for the lipid content in algal cells to be of high enough quantity, while maintaining adequate cell division times, so parameters that can maximize both are under investigation.

    A possible nutrient source is waste water from the treatment of sewage, agricultural, or flood plain run-off, all currently major pollutants and health risks. However, this waste water cannot feed algae directly and must first be processed by bacteria, through anaerobic digestion. If waste water is not processed before it reaches the algae, it will contaminate the algae in the reactor, and at the very least, kill much of the desired algae strain.

    In biogas facilities, organic waste is often converted to a mixture of carbon dioxide, methane , and organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizer that comes out of the digester is liquid, and nearly suitable for algae growth, but it must first be cleaned and sterilized. The utilization of wastewater and ocean water instead of freshwater is strongly advocated due to the continuing depletion of freshwater resources. However, heavy metals, trace metals, and other contaminants in wastewater can decrease the ability of cells to produce lipids biosynthetically and also impact various other workings in the machinery of cells.

    The same is true for ocean water, but the contaminants are found in different concentrations. Thus, agricultural-grade fertilizer is the preferred source of nutrients, but heavy metals are again a problem, especially for strains of algae that are susceptible to these metals. In open pond systems the use of strains of algae that can deal with high concentrations of heavy metals could prevent other organisms from infesting these systems.

    In comparison with terrestrial-based biofuel crops such as corn or soybeans, microalgal production results in a much less significant land footprint due to the higher oil productivity from the microalgae than all other oil crops. In addition, algal biofuels are much less toxic, and degrade far more readily than petroleum-based fuels. Therefore, algal biofuels should be treated in a similar manner to petroleum fuels in transportation and use, with sufficient safety measures in place at all times.

    Although this CO 2 will later be released into the atmosphere when the fuel is burned, this CO 2 would have entered the atmosphere regardless. Furthermore, compared to fuels like diesel and petroleum, and even compared to other sources of biofuels, the production and combustion of algal biofuel does not produce any sulfur oxides or nitrous oxides, and produces a reduced amount of carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and reduced emission of other harmful pollutants.

    Microalgae production also includes the ability to use saline waste or waste CO 2 streams as an energy source. This opens a new strategy to produce biofuel in conjunction with waste water treatment, while being able to produce clean water as a byproduct.

    Algae fuel - Wikipedia

    This has been demonstrated to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels in rivers and other large bodies of water affected by eutrophication, and systems are being built that will be capable of processing up to million liters of water per day. ATS can also be used for treating point source pollution, such as the waste water mentioned above, or in treating livestock effluent. Nearly all research in algal biofuels has focused on culturing single species, or monocultures, of microalgae. However, ecological theory and empirical studies have demonstrated that plant and algae polycultures, i.

    There is clearly a demand for sustainable biofuel production, but whether a particular biofuel will be used ultimately depends not on sustainability but cost efficiency. Therefore, research is focusing on cutting the cost of algal biofuel production to the point where it can compete with conventional petroleum. In a report [44] a formula was derived estimating the cost of algal oil in order for it to be a viable substitute to petroleum diesel:. These estimates assume that carbon dioxide is available at no cost. Whereas technical problems, such as harvesting, are being addressed successfully by the industry, the high up-front investment of algae-to-biofuels facilities is seen by many as a major obstacle to the success of this technology.

    Only few studies on the economic viability are publicly available, and must often rely on the little data often only engineering estimates available in the public domain. A study by Alabi et al. Raceways might be cost-effective in warm climates with very low labor costs, and fermenters may become cost-effective subsequent to significant process improvements. The group found that capital cost, labor cost and operational costs fertilizer, electricity, etc. Similar results were found by others, [] [] [] suggesting that unless new, cheaper ways of harnessing algae for biofuels production are found, their great technical potential may never become economically accessible.

    Recently, Rodrigo E. Teixeira [] demonstrated a new reaction and proposed a process for harvesting and extracting raw materials for biofuel and chemical production that requires a fraction of the energy of current methods, while extracting all cell constituents. Many of the byproducts produced in the processing of microalgae can be used in various applications, many of which have a longer history of production than algal biofuel. Some of the products not used in the production of biofuel include natural dyes and pigments, antioxidants, and other high-value bio-active compounds.

    For example, the dyes and oils have found a place in cosmetics, commonly as thickening and water-binding agents. For instance Spirulina contains numerous polyunsaturated fats Omega 3 and 6 , amino acids, and vitamins, [] as well as pigments that may be beneficial, such as beta-carotene and chlorophyll. One of the main advantages that using microalgae as the feedstock when compared to more traditional crops is that it can be grown much more easily.

    Microalgae also require fewer resources to grow and little attention is needed, allowing the growth and cultivation of algae to be a very passive process. Many traditional feedstocks for biodiesel, such as corn and palm, are also used as feed for livestock on farms, as well as a valuable source of food for humans.

    Because of this, using them as biofuel reduces the amount of food available for both, resulting in an increased cost for both the food and the fuel produced. Using algae as a source of biodiesel can alleviate this problem in a number of ways. First, algae is not used as a primary food source for humans, meaning that it can be used solely for fuel and there would be little impact in the food industry. This is an effective way to minimize waste and a much cheaper alternative to the more traditional corn- or grain-based feeds.

    Growing algae as a source of biofuel has also been shown to have numerous environmental benefits, and has presented itself as a much more environmentally friendly alternative to current biofuels. For one, it is able to utilize run-off, water contaminated with fertilizers and other nutrients that are a by-product of farming, as its primary source of water and nutrients. In addition to this, the ammonia, nitrates, and phosphates that would normally render the water unsafe actually serve as excellent nutrients for the algae, meaning that fewer resources are needed to grow the algae.

    Because of this, they have found use in industry as a way to treat flue gases and reduce GHG emissions. Algae biodiesel is still a fairly new technology. Despite the fact that research began over 30 years ago, it was put on hold during the mids, mainly due to a lack of funding and a relatively low petroleum cost. Further research will be required to make the production of algae biofuels more efficient, and at this point it is currently being held back by lobbyists in support of alternative biofuels, like those produced from corn and grain.

    Craig Venter 's Synthetic Genomics , algae is "probably further" than "25 years away" from commercial viability, [14] although Solazyme [17] and Sapphire Energy [18] already began small-scale commercial sales in and , respectively. The biodiesel produced from the processing of microalgae differs from other forms of biodiesel in the content of polyunsaturated fats. While this may seem like an advantage in production during the colder temperatures of the winter, the polyunsaturated fats result in lower stability during regular seasonal temperatures.

    Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. This program is involved in the production of renewable energies and energy efficiency. One of its most current divisions is the biomass program which is involved in biomass characterization, biochemical and thermochemical conversion technologies in conjunction with biomass process engineering and analysis.

    The program aims at producing energy efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly technologies that support rural economies, reduce the nations dependency in oil and improve air quality. At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution the wastewater from domestic and industrial sources contain rich organic compounds that are being used to accelerate the growth of algae. Sapphire Energy San Diego has produced green crude from algae.

    Solazyme South San Francisco, California has produced a fuel suitable for powering jet aircraft from algae. The aim of the program has been to build a 50 litre cultivation pilot plant at the Ketch harbor facility. The station has been involved in assessing how best to grow algae for biofuel and is involved in investigating the utilization of numerous algae species in regions of North America.

    In this issue we present two articles, one from Dr. As we stated in the past, the newsletter will attempt to present topics on algal biotechnology in general without endorsing any view as such. In so doing, we hope to provide a forum for a healthy and fruitful discussion that may help advance the field further on more realistic grounds.

    The first two issues of the newsletter have focused on microalgae. The next issue will highlight the other side of the equation — macroalgae. We hope these articles will generate further discussion. We look forward to your suggestions to make the newsletter an educational experience.

    In fact, algae-based fuels are the only kind you can buy! I say this somewhat facetiously, because crude oil and the fuels that come from it are all derived from algae. Granted, these are ancient fossilized algae that have undergone some chemical transformations over millions of years, but more or less all of the crude oil processed today, including things like shale oil and tar sands, are ultimately derived from algae.

    It is a done deal, a proven and known commodity; fuels from algae power most of our cars, trucks, ships and planes today. Algae-based alternative transportation fuels have already demonstrated this ability, having been refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuels, which have in turn been used to drive personal automobiles, fly commercial planes, and power Navy ships and aircraft.

    So if fungible fuels derived from algae are compatible with our existing transportation network today, when will these algae-based fuels — fuels made from recently living algae — be available at a large enough commercial scale to be economically competitive with fuels made from fossil crude oil? That is actually a very complex question that has many variables associated with it.

    Some of those variables have to do with future cost, of both crude oil as well as renewable algae oil, and neither of those costs are easy to predict, but we do see trends.

    Jonathan Trent: Energy from floating algae pods

    Let us start with the direct cost of crude oil. So what are the variables driving the cost of crude oil? Therefore, this sets the floor but not the ceiling, or even the average price. Now let us look on the other side of the ledger, at the cost of algae oil. It seems reasonable to assume that algae yields will follow a similar path, especially over the next few years, when large gains should be easier to come by as genomic and molecular technologies begin to be applied to a crop that has yet to benefit from these proven innovations.

    This is likely true, and so in many ways a dollar cost is only a reasonable comparison for today. What really matters in the future is the energy return on energy invested, or the EROI. If this number is not significantly above 1, meaning that more energy comes out of the process than is put in, then cost is meaningless, because the system in question is not sustainable.

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    EROI is a reasonable measure of commercial viability, and cost will follow. The EROI on fossil oil has historically been as high as , meaning for every 1 barrel of oil worth of energy put in, barrels of oil could be recovered. This is no longer the case, and today the EROI on fossil fuels ranges from 2. For sake of comparison, a present-day commercial facility for cellulosic ethanol has an EROI just below 1, while corn ethanol at full commercial scale has an EROI below 1 as well.

    So what does this mean in terms of when algae oil will be cost competitive with fossil fuels? It means we could see parity within five years, but a few things have to happen in order for that to become reality. First, it is critical to sustain and enhance investments in renewable energy from algae. Therefore, it is important that we reinvigorate investment in drop-in renewable fuels that are compatible with the existing transportation infrastructure.

    This continued investment is needed to incentivize construction of the commercial scale facilities that will allow us to achieve the economies of scale required to get the cost of algae oil lower. This investment will also enable the continued research that will allow us to improve both the algae strains and the production systems — progress that will help reduce cost further.

    Second, it is essential that we take a hard look at all of the potential renewable fuel options out there, and make the right decision on which options to fund, and which to back off on. This investment has achieved very little in terms of bringing cellulosic ethanol to commercial viability. From a purely market perspective, it is difficult to justify continuing such investments given that cellulosic ethanol has an EROI of less than 1.

    Perhaps part of the reason we continue down this path is that cellulosic ethanol research has now become an industry onto itself. There are just so many people funded to do this work, and so much money has been invested, that it is difficult to acknowledge that this vein is tapped out, and move on to more productive investments. Benemann, J. Disruptive Science and Technology. Youngs, H. California Council on Science and Technology. May 3. Pilot-scale data provide enhanced estimates of the life cycle energy and emissions profile of algae biofuels produced via hydrothermal liquefaction.

    Bioresour Technol. Future trends result from: present and emerging needs plus accumulated evolution achievements. To understand the possible future pathways it is necessary 1 to study the historical evolution, 2 the existing knowledge and experience, 3 and combine that with future needs - that can be fulfilled with microalgae products and technologies.

    The author has been monitoring in detail the microalgae sector since Three simultaneous inputs were spotted as the change-making factors: 1 Accumulated knowledge: The first description of microalgae was reported years ago. There was a slow progress in early times, then a linear growth in the 20th century — and an exponential change during the last ten years. This growth happened both in the number of persons working with microalgae at the research level and in the number of start-up companies. The first known company was Chlorella Industry in Japan in and forty years laterin , there were less than companies worldwide involved in the continuous production of microalgae.


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    6. The number of research groups and research organizations with projects related with microalgae went from less than worldwide to more than 5, in the same period. One major example following the oil crisis in the s, in the United States the Carter administration through the Department of Energy under the Office of Fuels Development, funded the Aquatic Species Program where the National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists isolated around 3, algae species over a period of nearly 20 years from to Several review papers, published in and brought together and reviewed most of the scientific and technological information.

      It is obvious that this syllogism, cited and repeated through the years, is wrong since no microalgae is capable of producing such high oil amounts or they would be breaking the principle of mass conservation. These were the triggering factors for the recent interest on microalgae. The US Energy Policy Act of directed a demand for more studies to be done on biofuels and also gave some guidance for federal programs for the increased implementation of biofuels. The peak in oil prices in boosted new interest in algal fuel worldwide.

      Research programs were initiated to investigate the different processes required to produce algal fuel. On 1 July the American Society for Testing of Materials has officially approved the use of algae and other sustainably-derived biofuels in commercial and military aircrafts. For this reason Food, Feed and Ceuticals will overcome biofuel applications relating the use of microalgae as a new crop.

      Some microalgae can be used as a premix to transform commodity low cost vegetable oils in added value partial replacers of fish oils and fishmeal. Product developments will emerge as a result of this market pressure based on existing and developing technology capacity. Biorefinery of microalgae biomass will make it possible to have added value products that are competitive in price, quality and performance.

      The products from microalgae have currently only three possible forms: microalgae paste, dried microalgae and microalgae extracts, each of which have a wide range of formulations. Microalgae are mostly spray-dried or freeze-dried but can also be simply sun- dried. Extracts can be obtained with solvents, super-critical, or with mechanical processes. Another alternative is to consider the top companies and relate their turnover with the products they have. The costs for such requests are high and will benefit the sector crosswise.