Designer Algae for photobiological hydrogen production

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Alliance Optimises Algae Fuel Search

The Washington State Algae Alliance, comprised of bioscience firm Targeted Growth, Inc. (TGI), Inventure Chemical (Inventure) and Washington State University (WSU), will benefit from $2 million in funding through WSU as part of the 2010 Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations bill.

The Alliance has three objectives: First, to develop an efficient and integrated algae cultivation system for the production of fuel and other products; second, to build first class capabilities; and third, to advance related science and technologies. These objectives align with initiatives identified in the National Algae Fuel Roadmap developed by the US Department of Energy.

Each partner in the Alliance is responsible for developing a specific link in the value chain. Targeted Growth will focus on the development and optimization of strains of cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae, to yield high levels of lipid and other products, while reducing needed inputs and ultimately driving down costs.

WSU will develop advanced phototrophic (light) and heterotrophic (nutrient) bioreactors and harvesting technology to enable cost-efficient, year-round growth of the algal strains developed by TGI. After the algal biomass is harvested, it will be sent to Seattle-based Inventure for conversion into fuel and other valuable products such as renewable chemicals.

“By closely coordinating the algal species selection with the production and refining technologies, we will be able to optimize the entire process, leading to higher quality products at a lower cost,” said Mark Tegen, CEO of Inventure Chemical.

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Algae buildings solves Climate issues

The future of green technology is algae-cultivating buildings, synthetic trees, and heaps of white roofs, according to the U.K.’s institution of Mechanical Engineers. Andrew McFaul.

Cultivating algae to make liquid fuel is one of the most active areas of study in biofuels. The institution is recommending that algae be amalgamated into buildings so algae can be grown at a big scale.

How synthetic trees, which capture carbon from the air, could be deployed alongside wind turbines.

Engineers envision that long plastic tubes, called photobioreactors, be integrated into building designs or retrofitted onto existing skyscrapers.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has in public offered this comparatively low-tech approach, which was studied in-depth at the Lawrence Livermore lab last year.

The shape of things to come?Climate issues fixed by these algae covered buildings.

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First commercial scale Algae farm in USA

In Texas, PetroSun will open the first US commercial-scale algae farm for biofuels near South Padre Island.

The 1,831 acre site includes 157 separate ponds, and the company said that extraction of algae from water and oil from algae were studied and solved at the company’s pilot farm in Opelika, Alabama. PetroSun said that results from the pilot farm demonstrated a yield of between 5,000 and 8,000 gallons per acre, or a potential oil production of 9-15 Mgy at the South Padre Island facility.

Algae-based research and development continues to pick up in pace, even though the US Defense Department is estimating that the current production cost of algae oil exceeds $20 per gallon.

Recent developments include:

Netherlands, AlgaeLink announced a new process for extracting algae without using chemicals, drying or an oil press.

The company said that its patent-pending technique uses 26 kilowatts of power to produce 12,000 gallons of algae oil per hour, with a yield of 50 percent from the initial algae paste.

In Texas, the state’s Emerging Technology Fund will provide $4 million to Texas AgriLife Research and General Atomics to conduct microalgae research and development.

In Virginia, researchers at Old Dominion University have successfully piloted a project to produce biodiesel feedstock by growing algae at municipal sewage treatment plants. The pilot project is producing up to 70,000 gallons of biodiesel per year.

In Minnesota, Xcel Energy has pledged $150,000 to assist in funding an algae-to-biodiesel research project sponsored by the University and the Metropolitan Council.

The US Department of Energy recently partnered with Chevron in a research effort to develop higher-yield strains of micro algae.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on a project with Honeywell, General Electric and the University of North Dakota.

In Texas, US Sustainable Energy is awaiting lab results from a test of biocrude production using 20 pounds of algae as a feedstock. The company recently ran its initial test of 20 pounds of 5% oil-content algae feedstock with 40 percent water content, and resulted in an ignitable oil product.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

A lot more action is expected in the future.

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Plastic from Algae

Cereplast, a company that designs and makes sustainable plastics from starches found in tapioca, corn, wheat and potatoes.But using potatoes and corn to produce billions of tonnes of bio-plastics might not be the most sustainable business plan either, as spikes in food prices in 2008 illustrated.

So Scheer, owner of Cereplast is also looking at algae.

“Algae presents the same kind of physical and thermal property that we find in starches,” he said. “We can grow algae extremely fast, in very large quantities, at a very low price.”

Cereplast hopes to offer a plastic made with algae for commercial sale by the end of 2010 and is projecting its annual sales will have doubled by then.

What’s more Algae plastics, being environmental friendly ,at the right price will catch on.

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NASA – Growing algae underwater?

NASA Ames Research Center makes biofuel from wastewater..

NASA has thrown its weight behind a clever method of growing algae in wastewater for the purpose of making biofuel.onathan Trent, a bioengineer at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif comments that the forward-osmosis membranes OMEGA only release fresh water into the ocean, and dont permit salty water to contaminate the bags.

Such a process would mainly rely on the energy of the ocean waves to mix the algae, as well as sunlight and carbon dioxide. The offshore locations and the wide oceans would also have more than enough room to grow massive amounts of algae needed to produce biofuels for an energy-hungry world.

One possible future plan would combine the algae-growth system with a gigantic offshore wind farm being built by Germany, Sweden and Denmark. Wind power could then provide lights to keep algae growing underwater and during the nighttime hours – a fitting vision for the sustainable future of spaceship Earth.

Its renewable carbon negative fuel from algae making use of sunlight,sewage and co2-a solution for today’s problem!

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Algae grows best in PBR

The two primary methods currently available for growing and harvesting algae are open pond systems and closed system photobioreactors (PBR). PBR’s create an enclosed growing environment for algae cultivation where light, air, and nutrients are supplied at regulated levels to ensure optimized growth. The problems versus benefits between the two systems are presented in bullet points in clear and detailed manner.


The site clearly shows that photobioreactor scores over traditional open pond systems. An unbiased presentation of facts helps in making a choice.

PBR efficiencies still require fine tuning. Government funding or subsidies would be a necessity especially for start up and small bio fuels companies. More research is required to isolate the most cost effective extraction processes.

Despite these limitations, bio algae production from PBR’s represents one of the United States’ greatest opportunities for transition away from strictly fossil fuels, while providing a high protein food source for humans and as a feed stock for animal, poultry, and fish live stocks. It can also assist in the reduction of greenhouse gases by sequestering CO2. As production levels increase PBR’s will be able to use their own oil output to run themselves removing the argument that it still requires fossil fuels to bio fuel production.

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