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Algae biofuels

Meeting the world’s growing energy demands will require a multitude of sources. Biofuel from algae could be a meaningful part of the solution in the future because of its potential as an economically viable, low emissions transportation fuel. Together ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) announced in July 2010 the opening of a new greenhouse facility to enable the next level of research and testing in our algae biofuels program. This greenhouse, located in La Jolla, California, is part of our ongoing commitment to advance breakthrough energy technologies to help address the world’s long term energy challenges. In July 2009, ExxonMobil joined with Synthetic Genomics, Inc (SGI) to launch new program to research and develop next-generation biofuels Fuels composed of or produced from biological raw materials, such as plants, photosynthetic organisms, or animal waste. from photosynthetic algae. The opening of the greenhouse is an important milestone because it provides the next level in scale up from a laboratory setting to an environment that better reflects real-world conditions for algae production. SGI and ExxonMobil researchers are using the facility to test whether large-scale quantities of affordable fuel can be produced from algae. In the greenhouse, researchers from ExxonMobil and SGI will examine different growth systems for algae, such as open ponds and closed photobioreactors. We will evaluate various algae, including both natural and engineered strains, in these different growth systems under a wide range of conditions, including varying temperatures, light levels and nutrient concentrations. We will also conduct research into other aspects of the algae fuel production process, including harvesting and bio-oil recovery operations. Since ExxonMobil and SGI announced the algae biofuel program last July, researchers have made substantial progress, including:

large quantities of algae can be grown quickly. Algae could yield more than 2000 gallons of fuel per acre per year of production.and second-generation biofuel feedstocks. this provides greenhouse gas mitigation benefits. unlike some other first.[1] The production of biofuels from algae does not reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). ExxonMobil expects to spend more than $600 million.Palm — 650 gallons per acre per year . If successful. Identifying and testing some of the preferred design characteristics of the different production systems. Algae have the potential to yield greater volumes of biofuel per acre of production than other biofuel sources. Several companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce capital and operating costs and make algae fuel production commercially viable. because any CO2 taken out of the atmosphere by the algae is returned when the biofuels are burned. water and carbon dioxide. Algae fuel is an alternative to fossil fuel and uses algae as its source of natural deposits. if research and development milestones are successfully met. and Initiating life cycle and sustainability studies to assess the impact of each step in the process on greenhouse gas emissions. we have concluded that biofuels from photosynthetic algae have potential benefits and advantages. Bio-oil produced by photosynthetic algae and the resultant biofuel will have molecular structures that are similar to the petroleum and refined products we use today.Soy — 50 gallons per acre per year Algae used to produce biofuels are highly productive. bio-oils from photosynthetic algae could be used to manufacture a full range of fuels including gasoline.Sugar cane — 450 gallons per acre per year . As a result.        Algae can be grown using land and water unsuitable for plant or food production. Growing algae consume carbon dioxide. Select species of algae produce bio-oils through the natural process of photosynthesis — requiring only sunlight. which includes $300 million in internal costs and potentially more than $300 million to SGI.Corn — 250 gallons per acre per year . After considerable study.   Isolating and/or engineering a large number of candidate algal strains and developing growth conditions under which these strains could be made more productive. land use and water use. . Approximate yields for other fuel sources are far lower: . They do however potentially reduce the introduction of new CO2 by displacing fossil hydrocarbon fuels. Under the program. Advantages of algae ExxonMobil has been engaged in a long-term effort to examine the potential of next generation and renewable fuels. diesel fuel and jet fuel that meet the same specifications as today’s products. and the process of testing different strains of algae for their fuel-making potential can proceed more rapidly than for other crops with longer life cycles.

His method takes advantage of the mixing ability of DME with water and oil.gov/biomass/pdfs/49123. the process can be a low-cost and environment-friendly method of extraction. There were 10 scientists in attendance at this year’s conference and each had his own story on how he got into the biofuel sector.[7] One biofuels company has claimed that algae can produce more oil in an area the size of a two car garage than a football field of soybeans. it would require 15. a Japanese scientist has developed a method using DME. With no organic solvents required for extraction. bioethanol. With these projects. 60 Times More Oil from Algae at Low Cost!! Hideki Kanda. and are biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment if spilled. map.[10] gae Biofuels at NREL NREL is aggressively pursuing algal biofuels projects with national and international partners.S. The 10 next gen biodiesel scientists met with various biodiesel mentors during a luncheon where students and professionals alike shared their ideas and visions for the future of biodiesel. DME can dewater blue-green algae and extract oils from it concurrently at room temperature. liquified Dimethyl Ether. to extract oil from blue . a Japanese organization where Hideki Kanda is the chief scientist.[9] This is less than 1⁄7 the area of corn harvested in the United States in 2000.000 square miles (39. CRIEPI. Among algal fuels' attractive characteristics: they do not affect fresh water resources.green algae at room temperature.[3][4][5] Algae cost more per unit mass (as of 2010. the amount of energy required for dewatering and drying can be reduced drastically when compared to conventional methods. because almost the entire algal organism can use sunlight to produce lipids. have ignited interest in algaculture (farming algae) for making vegetable oil. Isn’t that amazing!! . as well as a number of internally funded projects through its Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program.000 km2) which is only 0.High oil prices. biogasoline.pdf Meeting Scientists at the NBB Conference and Expo Joanna Schroeder had the opportunity to hang out with some “Next Generation for Biofuels". using land that is not suitable for agriculture.[2] can be produced using ocean and wastewater. biobutanol and other biofuels. has successfully extracted over 60 times greener crude oil (based on the dry blue-green algae weight) in its experiments than traditional methods. biodiesel.42% of the U. and the world food crisis. biomethanol. competing demands between foods and other biofuel sources. yet can theoretically yield between 10 and 100 times more energy per unit area than other secondgeneration biofuel crops. NREL is addressing the challenges to achieve an economic production process for algae biofuel. http://www. food grade algae costs ~$5000/tonne).[8] The United States Department of Energy estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States. due to high capital and operating costs[6]. or oil.nrel.

” said Mike Mendez. wind power. Sustainable energy sources are most often regarded as including all renewable sources. Second-generation technologies include solar heating and cooling.” Dozens of companies. And many of them are using genetic engineering or other biological techniques. Some of these technologies are still in widespread use. reducing dependence on fossil fuel resources.Sustainable energy is the provision of energy such that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. a co-founder and vice president for technology at Sapphire Energy. “There’s just intense interest globally. and geothermal power and heat. modern forms of bioenergy. the owner of the laboratory. but this is controversial politically due to concerns about peak uranium. reaching back more than 100 years . and solar photovoltaics. Posewitz. The initial investment was prompted by energy security concerns linked to the oil crises (1973 and 1979) of the 1970s . Renewable energy technologies are essential contributors to sustainable energy as they generally contribute to world energy security. “There are probably well over 100 academic efforts to use genetic engineering to optimize biofuel production from algae. First-generation technologies emerged from the industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century and include hydropower. wave power.” Algae are attracting attention because the strains can potentially produce 10 or more times more fuel per acre than the corn used to make ethanol or the soybeans used to make biodiesel. development and demonstration (RD&D) investments since the 1980s. potentially helping to keep some of this greenhouse gas from contributing to global warming. algae might be grown on arid land and brackish water. or natural disaster.000 strains. one can define three generations of renewables technologies. as well as many academic laboratories. to make it a crop. so that fuel production would not compete with food production. like chemically induced mutations.We’ve probably engineered over 4. green energy. Moreover. radioactive waste disposal and the risks of disaster due to accident. who has written a review of the field. geothermal power and tidal power. such as plant matter. wind power.[citation needed] and providing opportunities for mitigating greenhouse gases. Conventional fission power is sometimes referred to as sustainable. an assistant professor of chemistry at the Colorado School of Mines. solar power.[6] The International Energy Agency states that: Conceptually. literally. These are now entering markets as a result of research. to improve how algae functions. terrorism. It usually also includes technologies that improve energy efficiency. biomass combustion. are pursuing the same goal — to produce algae as a source of.” said Matthew C. And algae are voracious consumers of carbon dioxide. “My whole goal here at Sapphire is to domesticate algae.

Many of the technologies reflect significant advancements in materials. biorefinery technologies. —International Energy Agency. wave power. where the public sector has a role to play. with a total output of over 750 MW. tidal power. RENEWABLES IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY. at least in part. and third-generation technologies heavily depend on long term research and development commitments. hydroelectric plants are clean and have few emissions. concentrating solar thermal power. geothermal power.[7] First-generation technologies One of many power plants at The Geysers. Criticisms directed at large-scale hydroelectric plants include: . First-generation technologies are most competitive in locations with abundant resources. to environmental benefits. coal capture and storage. hot dry rock geothermal energy.but the continuing appeal of these renewables is due.[6] A 2008 comprehensive cost-benefit analysis review of energy solutions in the context of global warming and other issues ranked wind power combined with battery electric vehicles (BEV) as the most efficient. Their future use depends on the exploration of the available resource potential. nuclear energy. Also. Third-generation technologies are still under development and include advanced biomass gasification. hydroelectric plants have the advantages of being longlived—many existing plants have operated for more than 100 years. RENEWABLES IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY.and second-generation technologies have entered the markets. An IEA Fact Sheet[6] First. An IEA Fact Sheet[6] Among sources of renewable energy. and finally biofuels. followed by concentrated solar power. photovoltaic. and on overcoming challenges related to the environment and social acceptance. Advances in nanotechnology may also play a major role. a geothermal power field in northern California. and ocean energy. particularly in developing countries. —International Energy Agency.

This growth is driven by much increased energy costs— especially for imported energy—and widespread desires for more domestically produced. Generally speaking. However. however. other Asian nations are installing hydropower at a rapid pace.dislocation of people living where the reservoirs are planned. renewable.[8] Hydroelectric dams are one of the most widely deployed sources of sustainable energy. clean. China is the development leader. Hydroelectric dam in cross section Geothermal power plants can operate 24 hours per day. and release of significant amounts of carbon dioxide during construction and flooding of the reservoir. which underwent extensive development during growth of electrification in the 19th and 20th centuries. The areas of greatest hydroelectric growth are the booming economies of Asia. Hydroelectric power. it has been found that high emissions are associated only with shallow reservoirs in warm (tropical) locales. and the world potential capacity for geothermal power generation is estimated at 85 GW over the next 30 . hydroelectric plants produce much lower life-cycle emissions than other types of generation. is experiencing resurgence of development in the 21st century. providing base-load capacity. and economical generation.

The technique involves the conversion of almost any plant matter into compressed briquettes that typically have about 70% the calorific value of charcoal. but also for those in other countries. Strategic deployment in one country not only reduces technology costs for users there.[6] Geothermal heat generation can be competitive in many countries producing geothermal power.[10] The heat can also be used for industrial applications or as an energy input for other uses such as cooling equipment. RENEWABLES IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY. swimming pool water. An IEA Fact Sheet[6] Solar heating systems are a well known second-generation technology and generally consist of solar thermal collectors. Department of Energy.S. so it can be used in areas that were previously unsuitable for geothermal power.[9] Second-generation technologies Worldwide installed wind power capacity 1996-2008 Markets for second-generation technologies are strong and growing. and creating significant employment for people living in extreme poverty in conflict affected areas. The staff of Virunga National Park have successfully trained and equipped over 3500 people to produce biomass briquettes. EGS is currently under research at the U. but only in a few countries. Biomass briquettes are increasingly being used in the developing world as an alternative to charcoal. or in other regions where the resource is of a lower temperature. East Africa and the Philippines. including the United States. contributing to overall cost reductions and performance improvement. thereby replacing charcoal produced illegally inside the national park. The costs of geothermal energy have dropped substantially from the systems built in the 1970s.years. in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The systems may be used to heat domestic hot water. One exception is in North Kivu. or for space heating. a fluid system to move the heat from the collector to its point of usage.[11] In many . if the resource is very large. The challenge is to broaden the market base for continued growth worldwide. and a reservoir or tank for heat storage and subsequent use. Enhanced geothermal system (EGS) technology does not require natural convective hydrothermal resources. However. Central America. There are relatively few examples of large scale briquette production. —International Energy Agency. Indonesia. geothermal power is accessible only in limited areas of the world. where forest clearance for charcoal production is considered to be the biggest threat to Mountain Gorilla habitat.

Currently the largest photovoltaic power plant in North America is the Nellis Solar Power Plant (15 MW).[17] and the Waldpolenz Solar Park (40 MW).62278°W 38°1′51″N 7°37′22″W / 38.03083°N In the 1980s and early 1990s. Portugal 7. infrared. have high potential and have . Solar power is complicated due to changes in seasons and from day to night. and not all radiation from the sun reaches earth because it is absorbed and dispersed due to clouds and gases within the earth's atmospheres. such as wind power. most photovoltaic modules provided remote-area power supply.[15][16] Other large photovoltaic power stations include the Girassol solar power plant (62 MW).[18] Sketch of a Parabolic Trough Collector Some of the second-generation renewables. industry efforts have focused increasingly on developing building integrated photovoltaics and power plants for grid connected applications (see photovoltaic power stations article for details). Australia. a solar heating system can provide a very high percentage (50 to 75%) of domestic hot water energy. Cloud cover can also add to complications of solar energy. Light ranges of visible. at 154 MW. and radio waves received by the earth through solar energy. which would be the world's largest PV power station.[13][14] There is a proposal to build a Solar power station in Victoria. ultraviolet. x-rays. Energy received from the sun by the earth is that of electromagnetic radiation.climates. but from around 1995. The highest power of radiation comes from visible light.[12] 11 MW solar power plant near Serpa.

[24] Information on pump. and GM are among the automobile companies that sell “flexible-fuel” cars. 9% in Spain. As a result of this. DaimlerChrysler. it may be difficult to site wind turbines in some areas for aesthetic or environmental reasons. including the largest solar power plant of any kind. worldwide wind farm capacity was 120. At the end of 2008.791 megawatts (MW). California Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programs in the world. roads.S. and ethanol now provides 18 percent of the country's automotive fuel.[20] Wind power accounts for approximately 20% of electricity use in Denmark. can run on blends of up to 10% ethanol. By mid-2006. which years ago had to import a large share of the petroleum needed for domestic consumption.[6] Solar thermal power stations have been successfully operating in California commercially since the late 1980s.[19] and wind power produced some 1. and a 100MW plant in Israel.already realised relatively low production costs. Brazil.8 percent during the year.[23] Other parabolic trough power plants being proposed are two 50MW plants in Spain.S. involving production of ethanol fuel from sugar cane. together with the exploitation of domestic deep water oil sources.3% of global electricity consumption. and it may be difficult to integrate wind power into electricity grids in some cases. representing an increase of 28. and motor vehicle manufacturers already produce vehicles designed to run on much higher ethanol blends. and 7% in Germany. Ford.[25][26][27] Most cars on the road today in the U. there were approximately six million E85-compatible vehicles on U.[21][22] However. Nevada Solar One is another 64MW plant which has recently opened. recently reached complete self-sufficiency in oil. the 350 MW Solar Energy Generating Systems. trucks.[28] Third-generation technologies . and minivans that can use gasoline and ethanol blends ranging from pure gasoline up to 85% ethanol (E85).

another third-generation technology. RENEWABLES IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY. hot dry rock geothermal energy.[32][33] and costs are put at 8. and municipal solid waste are potential sources of cellulosic biomass.MIT's Solar House #1 built in 1939 used seasonal thermal storage for year round heating. Crop residues (such as corn stalks.5 million euro. They are on the horizon and may have potential comparable to other renewable energy technologies.[30] The world's first commercial [31] tidal stream generator — SeaGen — in Strangford Lough. solar thermal power stations. under construction in 2007. Dedicated energy crops. such as switchgrass. but still depend on attracting sufficient attention and RD&D funding. wheat straw and rice straw). In terms of Ocean energy. could allow biofuels to play a much bigger role in the future than previously thought. biorefinery technologies. Subject to successful operation. and ocean energy. These newest technologies include advanced biomass gasification. The strong wake shows the power in the tidal current. Third-generation technologies are not yet widely demonstrated or commercialised.[29] Cellulosic ethanol can be made from plant matter composed primarily of inedible cellulose fibers that form the stems and branches of most plants. the Aguçadora Wave Park. are also promising cellulose sources that can be sustainably produced in many regions of the United States.25 MW. Portugal has the world's first commercial wave farm. new bioenergy (biofuel) technologies being developed today. notably cellulosic ethanol biorefineries. wood waste. —International Energy Agency. An IEA Fact Sheet[6] According to the International Energy Agency. The farm will initially use three Pelamis P-750 machines generating 2. a further 70 million euro is likely to be invested .

Opportunities for improvement on the demand side of the energy equation are as rich and diverse as those on the supply side. Energy efficiency Moving towards energy sustainability will require changes not only in the way energy is supplied. Although the generator is powerful enough to power up to a thousand homes.before 2009 on a further 28 machines to generate 525 MW. The cost of focusing light on converters such as high-power solar panels. etc.g. Stirling engine.[42] Renewable energy (and energy efficiency) are no longer niche sectors that are promoted only by . reducing the carbon content of energy sources is also needed. The 1. as it is almost entirely submerged. The farm will be the world's largest with a capacity of 3 MW generated by four Pelamis machines. Efficiency slows down energy demand growth so that rising clean energy supplies can make deep cuts in fossil fuel use. which can create circuits out of individual silicon molecules.[36][37] Solar power panels that use nanotechnology. Likewise. and the rotors turn slowly enough that they pose no danger to wildlife.[34] Funding for a wave farm in Scotland was announced in February.[40] In this technique many units are connected with a network of ropes so that pulling two or three ropes is sufficient to keep all light converters simultaneously in focus as the direction of the sun changes. unless clean energy supplies come online rapidly. If energy use grows too fast. slowing demand growth will only begin to reduce total emissions. The company's plant has a planned production capacity of 430 megawatts peak power of solar cells per year.[41] Renewable energy and energy efficiency are sometimes said to be the “twin pillars” of sustainable energy policy.2 MW underwater tidal electricity generator takes advantage of the fast tidal flow in the lough which can be up to 4m/s. at a cost of over 4 million pounds. Nanosolar has secured more than $100 million from investors to build a factory for nanotechnology thin-film solar panels. Any serious vision of a sustainable energy economy thus requires commitments to both renewables and efficiency. but in the way it is used. renewable energy development will chase a receding target. according to executives and investors involved in developing the products.[39] Most current solar power plants are made from an array of similar units where each unit is continuously adjusted. Both resources must be developed in order to stabilize and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In 2007. 2007 by the Scottish Executive. can be dramatically decreased with a simple and efficient rope mechanics. as part of a £13 million funding packages for ocean power in Scotland. may cost half as much as traditional photovoltaic cells.. and reducing the amount of energy required to deliver various goods or services is essential. and often offer significant economic benefits. e.[35] (see also Wave farm). the world's first turbine to create commercial amounts of energy using tidal power was installed in the narrows of Strangford Lough in Ireland. the turbine has a minimal environmental impact. so that the light converter stays in focus of the sun light. Commercial production started and first panels have been shipped[38] to customers in late 2007. with some step motors.

[1] is a biofuel which is derived from algae.[44] Investment flows in 2007 broadened and diversified. biomethanol.[10] This is less than 1⁄7 the area of corn harvested in the United States in 2000 . with $148 billion of new money raised in 2007.[4][5][6] Algae cost more per unit mass (as of 2010. The mainstream capital markets are "now fully receptive to sustainable energy companies. and are biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment if spilled. Total financial transactions in sustainable energy. an increase of 60% over 2006. algae and other photosynthetic organisms capture carbon dioxide and sunlight and convert it into oxygen and biomass. also called algal fuel. biobutanol and other biofuels.000 square miles (40. because almost the entire algal organism can use sunlight to produce lipids. The increased levels of investment and the fact that much of the capital is coming from more conventional financial actors suggest that sustainable energy options are now becoming mainstream. competing demands between foods and other biofuel sources.[43] Climate change concerns coupled with high oil prices and increasing government support are driving increasing rates of investment in the sustainable energy industries. yet can theoretically yield between 10 and 100 times more energy per unit area than other secondgeneration biofuel crops.000 km2). They do however eliminate the introduction of new CO2[citation needed] by displacing fossil hydrocarbon fuels. including acquisition activity. and the world food crisis. because any CO2 taken out of the atmosphere by the algae is returned when the biofuels are burned.[2] The production of biofuels from algae does not reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). global investment in sustainable energy in 2007 was higher than previous levels. algaeoleum or third-generation biofuel.[44] Algae fuel. according to a trend analysis from the United Nations Environment Programme. supported by a surge in funds destined for clean energy investment". was $204 billion. Up to 99% of the carbon dioxide in solution can be converted. During photosynthesis. bioethanol. have ignited interest in algaculture (farming algae) for making vegetable oil.governments and environmentalists. Several companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce capital and operating costs and make algae fuel production commercially viable. which was shown by Weissman and Tillett (1992) in largescale open-pond systems. biogasoline. due to high capital and operating costs[7].[8] One biofuels company has claimed that algae can produce more oil in an area the size of a two car garage than a football field of soybeans. food grade algae costs ~$5000/tonne). Among algal fuels' attractive characteristics: they do not affect fresh water resources. High oil prices.[9] The United States Department of Energy estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States. or oil. making the overall picture one of greater breadth and depth of sustainable energy use. it would require 15. biodiesel.[3] can be produced using ocean and wastewater. According to UNEP. using land that is not suitable for agriculture.

[15] Microalgae have much faster growth rates than terrestrial crops. microalgae are capable of producing large amounts of biomass and usable oil in either high rate algal ponds or photobioreactors.000 to 20.000 m3/km2·a).[17] Studies[18] show that some species of algae can produce up to 60% of their dry weight in the form of oil.[16] This is 7 to 30 times greater than the next best crop. The per unit area yield of oil from algae is estimated to be from between 5.000 US gallons per acre per year (4. Because the cells grow in aqueous suspension. where they have more efficient access to water. This oil can then be turned into biodiesel which could be sold for use in automobiles. Chinese tallow (700 US gal/acre·a or 650 m3/km2·a).[19] . CO2 and dissolved nutrients.Currently most research into efficient algal-oil production is being done in the private sector.700 to 18. but predictions from small scale production experiments bear out that using algae to produce biodiesel may be the only viable method by which to produce enough automotive fuel to replace current world diesel usage. Regional production of microalgae and processing into biofuels will provide economic benefits to rural communities.