Cultivation of Algae: Things to remember

In terms of its energy characteristics algae is much greater than other sources.

200 thousand hectares of ponds can produce fuel sufficient for the annual consumption of 5% of U.S. automobiles. 200 thousand hectares – is less than 0.1% of U.S. land suitable for cultivation of algae.

Production of algae is also attractive by the fact that during the biosynthesis carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere

Problems faced in Algae cultivation:

1. Algae that contain larger amounts of oil grow more slowly. For example, algae, containing 80% of oil grow every 10 days, whereas, algae, containing 30% grow 3 times a day.

2. The main technological difficulty lies in the fact that algae are sensitive to changes in temperature, which therefore must be maintained at a certain level (sharp daily fluctuations are not allowed).

3. Lack of effective tools for collecting algae in large quantities also prevents the commercial application of algae as a fuel today.

4 It is also necessary to determine the most effective oil types for collecting.

Technology of algae growing:

U.S. Department of Energy has studied the algae with high oil content within the program named “Aquatic Species Program”. The researchers concluded that California, Hawaii and New Mexico are suitable for industrial production of algae in open ponds. Algae were growing in ponds with total area of 1000 m2 during 6 years. Pond in New Mexico has shown high efficiency in the capture of CO2. The yield was more than 50 grams of algae from 1 m2 per day.

There is the technology of cultivation algae in small bioreactors located near power plants in addition to algae growing in open ponds. Waste heat of heat power plant is able to cover 77% of heat demand, which is needed for the cultivation of algae. This technology does not require a hot desert climate.

Bio King Company started serial production of patented bioreactors for cultivation of algae, suitable for immediate use, which include fast-growing algae with high oil content.
Spanish scientists found a type of algae that are able to reproduce much faster than other biological counterparts under the certain lighting conditions. Taking into consideration the fact that each cubic meter of water contains up to 300 specimens of algae in the open sea, it is amazing that the researchers have reached the number of 200 million specimens from the same cubic meter of water.

Microalgae grow in a plastic cylinder with 70 cm diameter and 3 m length. The algae reproduce by dividing. They are being divided every 12 hours, and the water in the cylinder transforms into a green compact mass gradually. The contents of the cylinder is subjected to centrifuging once a day. The balance is approximately one hundred percent of biofuel. Saturated with fat part of this mass is converted into biodiesel, and carbohydrates into ethanol.

Such companies as Shell and HR Biopetroleum intend to build pilot plant on the Hawaiian Islands to obtain oil from microalgae and to process it into biofuels further.


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