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Biodiesel from Algae – Info, Resources & Links
While a number of bio-feedstock are currently being experimented for biodiesel p
roduction, algae have emerged as one of the most promising sources for biodiesel
production. Though research into algae as a source for biodiesel is not new, th
e current oil crises and fast depleting fossil oil reserves have made it more im
perative for organizations and countries to invest more time and efforts into re
search on suitable renewable feedstock such as algae.
Just by way of history, petroleum is widely believed to have had its origins in
kerogen, which is easily converted to an oily substance under conditions of high
pressure and temperature. Kerogen is formed from algae, biodegraded organic com
pounds, plankton, bacteria, plant material, etc., by biochemical and/or chemical
reactions such as diagenesis and catagenesis. Several studies have been conduct
ed to simulate petroleum formation by pyrolysis. On the basis of these findings,
it can be inferred that algae grown in CO2-enriched air can be converted to oil
y substances. Such an approach can contribute to solving two major problems: air
pollution resulting from CO2 evolution, and future crises due to a shortage of
energy sources.
While algae are one of the more promising feedstocks owing to their widespread a
vailability and higher oil yields, it is felt that there are not enough web reso
urces that provide comprehensive information on biodiesel production from algae.
This web page intends to be a one-stop resource for information and web links f
or biodiesel production from algae.
We hope that you find this page to be of use.
Any feedback and suggestions may kindly be sent to Narsi @ narsi@esource.in
Note:
The content for this page have been derived from Oilgae – a web resource dedicat
ed to providing comprehensive resources for oil and fuel production from algae.
See Oilgae – Biodiesel from Algae for more and up-to-date info on this topic.
See also:
What’s New & News in Energy – Get the latest from the NewNergy Blog
Get the latest news on oil and biodiesel from algae at the Oilgae Blog
Get the big picture on energy & alternative energy source from the Oilgae Energy
Sources Portal (Energy portal Home)
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See the latest inventions @ breakthroughs in energy @ NewNergy
See also: Some interesting energy-related questions from Billion Dollar Question
s
• Are biofuels sustainable in the long term?
• How long will oil last?
• What are the alternative energy options available?
The following are the sections in this page
1. What are algae?
2. Where do algae grow?
3. What are algae comprised of?
4. How are algae cultivated for biodiesel?
5. What are the existing sources of algae for biodiesel production?
6. What are the oil yields from algae?
7. What is the process by which the oil is extracted from algae?
8. How is biodiesel from algae different from biodiesel from other plant/ve
getable oils?
9. Talking practically, is it feasible to produce biodiesel from algae on a
large scale?
10. What can be done with the algae left-over after the extraction of oil (
the “dried algae”)?
11. More Points & Links on Biodiesel from Algae
12. Research on Algae & Biodiesel from Algae
13. Latest News & Updates on Biodiesel from Algae
14. Appendix
1. What are algae?
Algae (singular alga) is a term that encompasses many different groups of living
organisms. Algae capture light energy through photosynthesis and convert inorga
nic substances into simple sugars using the captured energy. Algae range from si
ngle-celled organisms to multi-cellular organisms, some with fairly complex diff
erentiated form
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Algae have been traditionally regarded as simple plants, and some are closely re
lated to the higher plants.
Forms of Algae
The main branches/lines of algae are:
• Chromista - this line includes the brown algae, golden brown algae, and
diatoms. The plastids in these algae contain Chlorophylls A and C. ( see: Brief
Introduction to the Phaeophyta, Brown Algae – from Wikipedia)
• The Red Line – this is an early branch of marine algae containing just C
hlorophyll A. Red algae can often be seen coating wave washed rocks. A character
istic of red algae is that their plastids contain only one type of chlorophyll -
- chlorophyll a. This is different from green algae and plants which have both c
hlorophyll a and b. (see: Introduction to the Rhodophyta, Red Alga – from Wikipe
dia)
• Dinoflagellates – these evolved on a separate line that includes, surpri
singly, the ciliated protists. (see: Introduction to the Dinoflagellata from UMC
P, Berkeley, Dinoflagellate Information – from MBARI, Dinoflagellate – from Wiki
pedia)
• The Euglenids – this independent line of single celled organisms that in
clude both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic species (see: Euglenid – from W
ikipedia)
• The Green Line, is related to plants. Plants and green algae have chloph
ylls A and B. ( see also: Introduction to Green Algae)
The three most prominent lines of algae are the brown algae (Chromista), the red
algae, and the green algae, of which some of the most complex forms are founds
among the green algae. This lineage eventually led to the higher land plants. Th
e point where these non-algal plants begin and algae stop is usually taken to be
the presence of reproductive organs with protective cell layers, a characterist
ic not found in the other alga groups.
See also:
• Algaculture – from Wikipedia
• Lots of Algae Related Links – from University of Arizona Algae Class
• Algae Research – from the Smithsonian Institution
• AlgaeBase – Listing the World’s Algae
• Algae Description & Types
2. Where do algae grow?
Algae are some of the most robust organisms on earth, able to grow in a wide ran
ge of conditions.
Algae are usually found in damp places or bodies of water and thus are common in
terrestrial as well as aquatic environments. However, terrestrial algae are usu
ally rather inconspicuous and far more common in moist, tropical regions than dr
y ones, because algae lack vascular tissues and other adaptions to live on land
As mentioned above, algae grow in almost every habitat in every part of the worl
d. The following are examples of non-marine (loosely termed freshwater here) h
abitats.
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Animals: Reported substrates include turtles, snails, rotifers, worms, crustacea
and many other animals
Aquatic plants: Algae grow on and inside water plants (including other algae)
Artificial substrates: Wooden posts and fences, cans and bottles etc. all provid
e algal habitats.
Billabongs & lagoons: Rich microalgal habitats, particularly for desmids.
Bogs, marshes & swamps
Farm Dams
Hot springs
Lakes
Mud and sand
Ponds (ephemeral), puddles, roadside ditches and rock pools
Reservoirs
Rivers
Rock (internal & surface)
Saline Lagoons
Saline Lakes & Marshes
Salt marshes and salt lakes
Snow
Soil
Streams
Terrestrial plants
3. What are algae comprised of?
Algae are made up of eukaryotic cells. These are cells with nuclei and organelle
s. All algae all have plastids, the bodies with chlorophyll that carry out photo
synthesis. But the various lines of algae can have different combinations of chl
orophyll molecules; some have just Chlorophyll A, some A and B, and other lines,
A and C.
All algae primary comprise of the following, in varying proportions: Proteins, C
arbohydrates, Fats and Nucleic Acids. While the percentages vary with the type o
f algae, there are algae types that are comprised up to 40% of their overall mas
s by fatty acids. It is this fatty acid (oil) that can be extracted and converte
d into biodiesel.
Table 1 - Chemical Composition of Algae Expressed on A Dry Matter Basis (%)
Strain Protein Carbohydrates Lipids Nucleic acid
Scenedesmus obliquus 50-56 10-17 12-14 3-6
Scenedesmus quadricauda 47 - 1.9 -
Scenedesmus dimorphus 8-18 21-52 16-40 -
Chlamydomonas rheinhardii 48 17 21 -
Chlorella vulgaris 51-58 12-17 14-22 4-5
Chlorella pyrenoidosa 57 26 2 -
Spirogyra sp. 6-20 33-64 11-21 -
Dunaliella bioculata 49 4 8 -
Dunaliella salina 57 32 6 -
Euglena gracilis 39-61 14-18 14-20 -
Prymnesium parvum 28-45 25-33 22-38 1-2
Tetraselmis maculata 52 15 3 -
Porphyridium cruentum 28-39 40-57 9-14 -
Spirulina platensis 46-63 8-14 4--9 2-5
Spirulina maxima 60-71 13-16 6-7 3-4.5
Synechoccus sp. 63 15 11 5
Anabaena cylindrica 43-56 25-30 4-7 -
Source: Becker, (1994)
See also:
Lipid Content of Algae – Biodiesel Now Forums
SERI Microalgae Culture Collection - Wikipedia
Preliminary Report of Distribution of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons in Algae & Bacteria
(PDF)
Chemical Constituents of Marine Algae off Karachi Coast (PDF
4. How are algae cultivated for biodiesel?
Like plants, algae require primarily two components to grow: sunlight and carbon
-di-oxide. Like plants again, they use the sunlight for the process of photosynt
hesis. Photosynthesis is an important biochemical process in which plants, algae
, and some bacteria convert the energy of sunlight to chemical energy. This chem
ical energy is used to drive chemical reactions such as the formation of sugars
or the fixation of nitrogen into amino acids, the building blocks for protein sy
nthesis. (see Photosynthesis – from Wikipedia)
Since algae need for their growth sunlight, carbon-di-oxide and water, they can
cultivated in open ponds. However, the unassisted growth in open ponds is slow,
owing to the lower concentration of carbon-di-oxide; where carbon-di-oxide conce
ntrations are increased artificially, higher growth rates can be achieved in ope
n ponds as well. Alternatively, algae could be grown in closed structures called
photobioreactors, where the environment is better controlled than in open ponds
. While the costs of setting up and operating a photobioreactor would be higher
than for those for open ponds, the efficiency and higher oil yields from these p
hotobioreactors could be significantly higher as well, thus offsetting the initi
al cost disadvantage in the medium and long run.
Finding algae strains to grow isn t too difficult. Cultivating specific strains
of algae for biodiesel could be however a bit more difficult, as they can requir
e high maintenance and could get easily contaminated by undesirable species.
Photobioreactors
A photobioreactor is an equipment that is used to harvest algae. Photobioreactor
s can be set up to be continually harvested (the majority of the larger cultivat
ion systems), or by harvesting a batch at a time (like polyethlyene bag cultivat
ion). A batch photobioreactor is set up with nutrients and algal seed, and allow
ed to grow until the batch is harvested. A continuous photobioreactor is harvest
ed either continually, as daily, or more frequently.
Some types of photobioreactors include:
• glass or plastic tubes
• tanks
• plastic sleeves or bags
Growing algae at home
Take a container and add a small amount of algae culture. If your plans for grow
ing algae are towards producing biodiesel feedstock, you will need to find speci
fic algae strains. Adding an aquarium bubble stone increases growth and circulat
es the algae. The only requirements for this type of system are CO2, (ambient CO
2 is sufficient, though you re growth rate will be slower), nutrients, such as f
ertilizer or manure, and a light source. The optimal temperature range will depe
nd on the strain you are using.
Lighting
Some sources that can be used to provide the light energy required to sustain ph
otosynthesis include
• Fluorescent bulbs
• LEDs, or
• Natural sunlight
Some more thoughts on algae growth and cultivation
• It could also be worth thinking about how (or if) marine algae could be grown
– perhaps through iron fertilization - in otherwise unproductive (high-nitrogen-
low-chlorophyll) regions of the open oceans.
Research on Algae Cultivation
• The NREL (national Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the Department of Ener
gy) conducted research into algae production. NREL favoured unlined “raceway” po
nds which were stirred using a paddle wheel, and had carbon dioxide bubbled thro
ugh it. The water used for these ponds is wastewater (treated sewerage) freshwat
er, brackish water, or salt water, depending on the strain of algae grown. The a
lgae should be a native to the region.
• Other countries, notably Japan, are interested in closed systems; however thes
e systems (at least from NREL perspective) are very expensive.
See also: Cultivating Algae for Liquid Fuel Production, Oil Production from Alga
e - FAO
6. Existing Sources of Algae for Biodiesel
The existing large-scale sources are of algae are:
Terrestrial & Aquatic plants: Algae grow on and inside water plants (including o
ther algae)
Billabongs & lagoons: Rich microalgal habitats, particularly for desmids.
Bogs, marshes & swamps - Salt marshes and salt lakes
Sewages & Garbage
Biodiesel from Sewage, Article & Discussions - SlashDot
The Power of LeftOvers – Biodiesel from Garbage
Farm Dams & Large Water Reservoirs
Hot springs
Rivers, Lakes & Ponds, Puddles etc. – also Saline Lagoons, Saline Lakes & Marshe
s
Soil, Mud, Sand & Rocks (internal & surface)
Snow
5. Oil Yield from Algae
Microalgae contain lipids and fatty acids as membrane components, storage produc
ts, metabolites and sources of energy. Algal strains, diatoms, and cyanobacteria
(catagorised collectively as "Microalgae") have been found to contain proportio
nally high levels of lipids (over 30%). These microalgal strains with high oil,
or lipid content are of great interest in the search for a sustainable feedstock
for the production of biodiesel. As could be seen from Table 1, algae contain a
nywhere between 2% and 40% of lipids/oils by weight.
Lipid accumulation in algae typically occurs during periods of environmental str
ess, including growth under nutrient-deficient conditions. Biochemical studies h
ave suggested that acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACCase), a biotin-containing enzyme t
hat catalyzes an early step in fatty acid biosynthesis, may be involved in the c
ontrol of this lipid accumulation process. Therefore, it may be possible to enha
nce lipid production rates by increasing the activity of this enzyme via genetic
engineering.
The following species listed are currently being studied for their suitability a
s a mass-oil producing crop, across various locations worldwide.
• Neochloris oleoabundans - Neochloris oleoabundans is a microalga belonging in
the class Chlorophyceae
• Scenedesmus dimorphus - Scenedesmus dimorphus is a unicellular algae in the cl
ass Chlorophyceae
• Euglena gracilis
• Phaeodactylum tricornutum - Phaeodactylum tricornutum is a diatom
• Pleurochrysis carterae - Pleurochrysis carterae is a unicellular coccolithopho
rid alga that has the ability to calcify subcellularly. It is a member of the cl
ass Haptophyta (Prymnesiophyceae)
• Prymnesium parvum - Prymnesium parvum is a toxic algae
• Tetraselmis chui - Tetraselmis chui is a marine unicellular alga
• Tetraselmis suecica
• Isochrysis galbana - Isochrysis galbana is a microalga.
• Nannochloropsis salina – This is also called Nannochloris oculata. In th
e same group are Nannochloris atomus Butcher, Nannochloris maculata Butcher, Nan
nochloropsis gaditana Lubian, and Nannochloropsis oculata (Droop)
• Algal strains such as Botryococcus braunii can produce long chain hydroc
arbons representing 86% of its dry weight
• Nannochloris sp.
• The strains of Algae most favoured by the NREL researchers were Chloroph
yceae (green algae). Green algae tend to produce starch, rather than lipids. Gre
en algae have very high growth rates at 30oC and high light in a water solution
of type I at 55 mmho/cm.
• The other favoured algae (by NREL researchers) is Bacilliarophy (diatom
algae). However, the diatom algae needs silicon in the water to grow, whereas gr
een algae requires nitrogen to grow. Under nutrient deficiency the algae produce
d more oils per weight of algae, however the algae growths also were significant
ly less. While certain green algae strains are very tolerant to temperature fluc
tuations, diatoms have a fairly narrow temperature range.
See also: Biodiesel Now Forum on Algal Strains
Oil Yield from Algae Research
• Research into cloning the gene that encodes ACCase from the eukaryotic alga Cy
clotella cryptica has been undertaken, by isolating this gene. Research found th
at the amino acid sequence of ACCase deduced from this gene exhibited a high deg
ree of similarity to the sequences of animal and yeast ACCases in the biotin car
boxylase and carboxyltransferase domains, but less similarity exists in the biot
in carboxyl carrier protein domain. Comparison of the genomic nucleotide sequenc
e to the sequences of cDNA clones has revealed the presence of two introns in th
e gene. Research teams are currently constructing expression vectors containing
this gene and developing algal transformation protocols to enable overexpression
of ACCase in C. cryptica and other algal species.
6. What is the process by which the oil is extracted from algae?
While more efficient processes are emerging, a simple process is to use a press
to extract a large percentage (70-75%) of the oils out of algae. The remaining p
ulp can be mixed with cyclo-hexane to extract the remaining oil content.
The parameters to be considered while evaluating the ideal algae processor are:
• Capacity/throughput of the system
• Speed/density
Centrifuges
A centrifuge is a useful device for both biolipid extraction from algae and chem
ical separation in biodiesel.
Centrifuge Applications
There are several steps in the biodiesel production process where centrifugation
is useful.
• Feedstock preparation - In this case, algae must first be separated from
its medium, then the oil extracted from the algae.
• Separation of transesterification products – Biodiesel and glycerine mus
t be separated, and any leftover reactants removed.
• Water wash – Biodiesel can be washed of soap and glycerine using a centr
ifuge.
• Magnasol solids removal - As an alternative to water washing, it may be
possible to wash the biodiesel in Magnasol.
See also:
• A Discussion from Biodiesel Now Forums
• Imagine – from Algae to Biodiesel (PDF)
• Oil from Algae Yahoo Group
• Biodiesel from Algae – Groupee Community
• Biodiesel from Algae – US Dept of Energy (PDF)
• Algae Farms Make Case for Kyoto
• Turning Emissions into Fuel with Algae
• Micro-algae for CO2 Utilisation and Biofuel Production (PDF)
• US Dept of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program – Biodiesel from Algae (PDF)
• Biodiesel from Algae is Here
• Biodiesel from Marine Algae – from Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (PDF)

• Modelling & Simulation of the Algae to Biodiesel Fuel Cycle (PDF)


• Green Algae for Carbon Capture & Biodiesel
• Biodiesel from Algae – from the Imagine Project (PDF)
• GreenShift Licenses Bioreactor Technology
• SolaRoof OpenEco Wiki – Oil from Algae
• Biodiesel Created from Algae – Social Forge
• Industrial Photo Bioreactor for Commercial Production of Algae-based Bio
diesel (PDF)
See also:
Westfalia Separator – See Westfalia separator homepage & A brochure explaining d
ecanter technology and its applications (PDF).
7. How is biodiesel from algae different from biodiesel from other plant/vegetab
le oils?
The biodiesel from algae in itself is not any different from biodiesel produced
from vegetable/plant oils. All biodiesel essentially are produced using triglyce
rides (commonly called fats) from the plant/algal oils.
The difference is however in the yield of oil, and hence biodiesel. According to
some estimates, the yield (per acre, say) of oil from algae is over 200 times t
he yield from the best-performing plant/vegetable oils.
Summary of advantages of biodiesel produced from algae
• Higher yield and hence – hopefully – lower cost
• Algae can grow practically in every place where there is enough sunshine
• The biodiesel production from algae also has the beneficial by-product o
f reducing carbon and NOx emissions from power plants, if the algae are grown us
ing exhausts from the power plants.
8. Talking practically, is it feasible to produce biodiesel from algae on a larg
e scale?
Theoretically, biodiesel produced from algae appears to be the only feasible sol
ution today for replacing petro-diesel completely. No other feedstock has the oi
l yield high enough for it to be in a position to produce such large volumes of
oil. To elaborate, it has been calculated that in order for a crop such as soybe
an or palm to yield enough oil capable of replacing petro-diesel completely, a v
ery large percentage of the current land available needs to be utilized only for
biodiesel crop production, which is quite infeasible. For some small countries,
in fact it implies that all land available in the country be dedicated to biodi
esel crop production. However, if the feedstock were to be algae, owing to its v
ery high yield of oil per acre of cultivation, it has been found that about 10 m
illion acres of land would need to be used for biodiesel cultivation in the US i
n order to produce biodiesel to replace all the petrodiesel used currently in th
at country. This is just 1% of the total land used today for farming and grazing
together in the US (about 1 billion acres). Clearly, algae are a superior alter
native as a feedstock for large-scale biodiesel production.
In practice however, biodiesel has not yet been produced on a wide scale from al
gae, though large scale algae cultivation and biodiesel production appear likely
in the near future (4-5 years).
See also: Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae – Michael Briggs, University
of New Hampshire
9. What can be done with the algae left-over after the extraction of oil ( the “
dried algae”)?
The flakes left over from biodiesel squeezing can be processed into ethanol. It
can also be used as livestock feed, such as chicken feed.
Algal biomass has other potential on- and off-farm uses. Although it has primari
ly been considered as an alternative high-grade protein source in animal feed, a
lgal biomass with a balanced N:P ratio is a potentially valuable organic fertili
zer. It may also have some biocontrol properties. Algal biomass is also reported
to be particularly suitable for pisciculture.
See also: Application of Bacterial Biomass as a Potential Metal Indicator (PDF),
Production & Processing of Algae for Industrial Applications
10. More Points & Links on Biodiesel from Algae
• Some algae can grow in saline water. It is worth exploring the possible
economic production of biodiesel from algae using saline ground water in the gro
wing ponds, which are covered by greenhouses as used by the horticultural and fl
oral industries. Once the water becomes too salty for the algae to grow, it coul
d be drained to evaporation ponds to recover the salts for use by the chemical i
ndustry.
• At an assumed recovery rate of 30% of the weight of algae, 45.6 tonnes o
f oil/hectare/year can be produced from Diatom algae.
• Algae production can be increased by increasing the carbon dioxide conce
ntration in the water.
• For best conditions, algae ponds would need to be covered by greenhouses
, which would require additional capital expediture to set up.
• Different algae species produce different amounts of oil. Some algae ( d
iatoms for instance) produce up to 50% oil by weight.
• Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, use solar energy to split
water into oxygen and hydrogen, but they do it under limited conditions and for
very brief periods of time. One of the goals is to extend the time and conditio
ns under which these bacteria produce hydrogen. The major challenge that must be
overcome is that cyanobacteria only produce hydrogen in the absence of oxygen.
Success is dependent upon finding oxygen-tolerant strains of cyanobacteria.
See also:
• A Look-back at the US Dept of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program (PDF)
• Future of Algal Culture & Algal Biodiesel
• Algae for Bio-diesel – Slide Presentation from Veggie Van
• Biodiesel from Algae in Sewage
• Bio-engineered Algae Bringing Hydrogen Fuel-cells Closer?
• Algae-based Fuel – from Green Fuel Online (PDF)
• Commodities of the Future – How about Algae & Manure?
• More Good News about Biodiesel – Dymaxion World
• Pond Scum to the Rescue – Salon Magazine
• Oil Substitutes from Biomass - FAO
• Culturing Algae for Carbon-di-oxide Bioremediation (PDF) – see page 13 o
f this report
• Biohydrocarbons from Algae – Impact of Sunlight, Temperature & Salinity
on Algae Growth
• Concentration of Chlorophyll, Proteins, Carbohydrates & Lipids in 16 Spe
cies of Micro-algae
• Role of Lipids & Fatty Acids in Stress Tolerance in Cyanobacteria (PDF)
(Cyanobacteria are also known as blue-green algae)
• Tests of Biogas Productivity from Algae Using Flue Gas CO2 (PDF)
• Roadmap for Biofixation of CO2 & Greenhouse Gas Abatement with Microalga
e (PDF) ( see also Proposal to Establish International Network for Biofixation &
Greenhouse Gas Reduction with Microalgae - PDF)
• Approach for Screening Marine Micro-algae for Maximum Gas CO2 Biofixatio
n Potential (PDF)
• Photo Bioreactors – Production Systems for Phototropic Microorganisms (P
DF)
• Solar Lighting for Growth of Algae in a Photobioreactor
• CellPharm Tubular Reactors
• Greefield Bioreactor Photo – News.com
• Valuable Products from Microalgae (Microsoft Word File)
• Algal Production – from FAO
• Quick Tour of Ecogenics Research Center, Tennessee
• Algal Cultivation Products – from CellPharm Aquaculture
• Chlorella vulgaris Made in Germany
• http://www.bio.utexas.edu/research/utex/index.html
• Oil from Algae Yahoogroup
• Algae Culture Source – Biodiesel Now Forums
• Micro-algal Mass Cultures for Co-production of Fine Chemicals & Biofuels
(PDF)
• Biodiesel from Algae is Here – from Sydney Biodiesel Users Group
• CEE Algae Blog
• Sunlight + Algae = Hydrogen Fuel - Slashdot
• Use of Botryococcous Braunii for Hydrocarbon Production & CO2 Mitigation
(PDF)
11. Research on Algae & Biodiesel from Algae
• Some recent studies have been directed at investigating the feasibility of usi
ng anaerobic digestion as a technique to recover solar energy embodied in the ex
cessive algal biomass production as a replacement fuel. The three major issues r
estricting the economic and technical feasibility of anaerobic fermentation of a
lgal sludge are: 1) The low energy density of the dewatered sludge as obtained f
rom algal removal techniques, 2) Green algal sludge is relatively resistant to a
naerobic biodegradation 3) The high nitrogen content of algal biomass leading to
ammonia toxicity in the anaerobic digester environment.
12. Appendix
Appendix A - Biodiesel from Algae Fed on Coal-fired Power Station Exhausts
• The idea is that carbon dioxide from coal fired power station is used to
produce algae, which is used to make biodiesel and natural gas.
• If the carbon dioxide from a coal fired power station is pumped directly
through a pipeline to a near by algae ‘farm’, then the amount of carbon dioxide
absorbed into the algae is around 30%. The reason the value is so low is that t
he algae does not grow at night hence all carbon dioxide pumped then, goes strai
ght into the atmosphere. In addition, the algae grow faster in summer than in wi
nter. The other method is to concentrate the carbon dioxide and pressurize it an
d truck it to the algae farm, and then release the carbon dioxide into the ponds
as and when it is needed. It is hoped that >95% of the carbon dioxide can be co
nsumed by this method. A paddle wheel would move the water at a steady flow. The
ponds would be unlined, that is made of compact clay, with gravel in the bottom
to ensure no soil becomes agitated into the water.
Some estimates of biodiesel production from algae using CO2 from coal-fired powe
r stations
• Algae yield 100 tonnes/ha.
• 2.2 tonnes carbon dioxide needed / 1 tonnes algae
• Water needed 4m3/m2. Most of the water is lost due to evaporation, some
is consumed by the algae, and some is lost in the harvesting of the algae.
• A 500 MW coal fired power station produces 3.67x106 tonnes of carbon dio
xide
• 3.5 barrels of biodiesel per tonne algae produced
• 6 MJ methane per tonne algae generated
• Energy density of LNG is 15.2 kWh/kg and density is 448 kg/m3
Appendix B – Diatoms
One of the more well-researched species of algae are the diatoms.
Biotechnological applications of diatoms are still in development. Because of th
e photoautotrophic status of the majority of diatoms, microalgal cultures suffer
from the limitation of light diffusion, which requires the development of suita
ble photobioreactors. Thus, genetically engineered microalgae that may be cultiv
ated in heterotrophic conditions present a new opportunity. Most of the time, me
tabolic stress conditions lead to an overproduction of the products of interest,
with a decrease in biomass production as a consequence. Outdoor cultures in ope
n ponds are usually devoted to aquaculture for the feeding of shrimps and bivalv
e molluscs (commercial production), while closed axenic indoor/outdoor photobior
eactors are used for biotechnological compounds of homogeneous composition (stil
l at the laboratory scale). In addition to the optimum culture conditions that h
ave to be taken into account for photobioreactor design, the localisation of pro
duced metabolites (intra- or extracellular) may also be taken into account when
choosing the design. Microalgal cell immobilisation may be a suitable technique
for application to benthic diatoms, which are usually sensitive to bioturbation
and/or metabolites which may be overexpressed.
Currently diatoms (an algae) are being investigated for biodiesel and other thin
gs, including medicine. It appears more basic research about them is needed to b
e able to manage large scale diatom farms economically. Diatom study includes sp
ecies that like to attach themselves to coral, sea weed , or strip of plastic. T
hus harvesting diatoms is more complicated than pumping them from the sea, or a
pond.

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