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Algae Biofuel

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Holly Parsons

on 2 May 2014

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Transcript of Algae Biofuel

Algae-Based Biofuel
plant like organisms
convert sunlight into energy
2x size in 1 day
certain species contain natural oils which can be refined to produce biodiesel, jet fuel and ethanol
Over 100 000 different species
up to 70% mass = oil

How is Algae Turned into Biofuel?
four-step process:
(1) cultivation
(2) harvesting
(3) lipid (oil) extraction
(4) lipid conversion to biofuel

Efficiency of Photosynthesis

Social Impact
what kind of social impacts will arise as algae bio fuel becomes increasingly available commercially?....
will people who are tring to stay green use this type of energy source as a clean alternative now or in the future when its available?
Energy Transformations
Cost and Economic Impact
The Average cost to make the bio fuel per gallon is $30 today but in the future it should decrease as more efficient methods of extraction arise.
Reducing the cost will require big investors to invest in this type of energy if they want it to evolve further.
as the worlds oil supply decreases more and more every year there will be a need for an alternative and this alternative will either make or break the economy.
17% of US oil imports could be met by algae biofuel
aviation trials with several airlines including United and Qantas have successfully been completed using fuel blends of 40 percent algae derived fuel
job opportunities- currently over 20, 000 workers as of now in the industry, by 2020 likely to be 220, 000 skilled workers hired according to a report by the Algal biomass organization
Concept of work
for concept of work I'm going to explain Electron transport chain which occurs during photosynthesis.
What is Algae Biofuel?
cost, concept of work, economic and social impact
Efficiency and Energy Transformations
Algae Are...
There are 4 methods - here are 2:

Open Pond v.s PhotoBioReactor

Open Pond System
Most common
cycled continuously around pond circuit
nutrients and fertilizers added
new crop every week
relatively low cost and easy to operate


only very efficient in hot and sunny climates
risk of contamination
Difficult to maintain ideal water temperature

PhotoBioReactorSystem (PBR)

closed tank - growing conditions are artificially maintained

supply of light, nutrients, air, carbon dioxide, and temperature can be strictly regulated
higher cell concentrations (more oil)
prevent contamination
climate conditions have a lesser impact
strategically placed near energy plants to capture excess CO2

Hexane Solvent Method
2 Step Process
(1) once algae is harvested and dried, the biomass is run through a press that extracts 75% of the oil
(2) remaining algae is mixed with hexane (solvent) and then filtered (20% oil removal)

total of 95% oil removed

Harvesting + Lipid Oil Extraction
biofuel refined into:
jet fuel, biodiesel, ethanol

Lipid Conversion to Liquid Biofuel

Does not require agricultural land or even fresh water to grow
certain species can be cultivated in salt or waste water
GHG footprint 93% less than conventional diesel
renewable and sustainable

Pros + Environmental Benefits
Cons + Negative Environmental Impacts

cultivation requires large amounts of phosphorus as a fertilizer – becoming scarce

needs upwards of 3 barrels of water for 1 barrel of fuel

burning of the biofuels will produce CO2


Essentially Carbon Neutral!!!
1g of biomass = 1.8g of CO2 removed from atmosphere

the amount of CO2 absorbed by algae is outweighs the amount released throughout production

net GHG reduction of 75 g CO2-eq/MJ

Only 45% of light is in the wavelength range that can be used for photosynthesis (~400-700 nm wavelength)
referred to as PAR
radiant energy stored chemical energy kinetic energy

- uses up lots of water
- low efficiency
- Need to be grown under controlled temperature conditions
-Relatively high upfront capital costs
-Not clear yet what the ultimate cost per gallon will be. Presently too high.
- about 100000 different strains so finding the one that could yield the most oil could is very difficult

- produces more oil per ha than any other land based crop (10 - 100x higher) and requires a fraction of the land
- more funding going into more efficient and cost effective methods
-renewable and sustainable (very eco-friendly)
- genetic engineering is an option
- sources of fossil fuels will eventually deplete
- algae biofuel could be the fuel of the future

maximum photosynthetic efficiency =
Other factors that further decrease this value include:

 surface reflection
 Poor absorption
 Weather conditions
 respiration and thermodynamic losses

= the max solar energy that can theoretically be converted and chemically stored into algal biomass is approx.
most accurate % efficiency = 6%
By: Holly Parsons and Paulos Hailegiorgis
new and promising energy source

potentially one of the world's most renewable and sustainable energy resources

research has been going into algae biofuel for about 50 years and is now in the later stages of development
Plant Sites are Selected based on:

- availability of sunlight

- favorable climatic conditions

- land topography

- easy access to nutrients, carbon sources and water

Genetic Engineering is an option to try and increase the photosynthetic efficiency
researchers are investigating many ways to to this one of them being genetically altering algae to have a low antenna pigment content as it would result in less light saturation
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