Algae to Biodiesel

Petro Algae – An Algae to Biofuel Pioneer

Is Algae the Biofuel of The Future?

The big complaint about biofuel has been that using food crops to produce biofuel bumps up the cost our groceries. The great news with algae biofuel is that we don’t normally consume algae so it doesn’t affect the price of our groceries!

Arizona State has produced a strain of algae that is very high in oil content and is ready to “harvest” in about two days to use in the production of algae biofuel. Once it’s harvested it goes into a high-speed centrifuge and is broken down into a green powder, and a thick black oil. The crude algae oil is then refined to produce algae biofuel. The left over algae biomass can be used in animal feed.

Another beauty of the algae to biofuel process is that the algae is fed on carbon dioxide during its growth. So not only does algae produce a clean burning biofuel, but factories could have algae farms installed on their sites and feed their carbon dioxide emissions into the algae farm, reducing their carbon emissions and at the same time producing the ingredients for clean, renewable biofuel to use in their machinery, or sell for extra cash flow.

PetroAlgae is pioneering the algae biofuel frontier, and was started by Fred Tenant, seen in the above algae to biofuel video.

Solar Lighting for Growth of Algae for biofuel

This ORNL/Ohio University project is demonstrating the feasibility of using remote solar lighting systems to enhance sunlight utilization and biomass production in photobioreactors.

This system is expected to sequester carbon at a cost of $5-8 per ton surpassing the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of $10 per ton. It will also reduce the space required by a factor of 10 or more, when compared to raceway cultivators.

Light delivery and distribution is the principle obstacle to using commercial-scale photobioreactors for algae production for use in biofuel. In horizontal cultivator systems, light penetrates the suspension only to 5 cm, leaving most of the algae in darkness. The top layer of algae requires only about 1/10th the intensity of full sunlight to maximize growth, so the remaining sunlight is wasted.

The biomass that is left over after the algae to biofuel process has a variety of potential uses: hydrogen production, feedstocks, agriculture, pharmaceuticals.

Large solar collectors on the roof track the sun, collect sunlight, and distribute it through large optical fibers to the bioreactor’s algae growth chamber. The fibers function as distributed light sources to illuminate cyanobacteria (algae).
Each growth chamber consists of a series of illumination sheets containing the optical fibers and moist cloth-like membranes on which the algae grow. By stacking the membranes vertically and better distributing the light, more algae can be produced via photosynthesis in a smaller area.
Photobioreactors use sunlight to sequestor carbon from coal-fired power plants as they produce algae biomass. The Ohio University reactor will ultimately remove the carbon generated by the production of about 125 MW of electricity in a coal fired plan.
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