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Growing Fuel from Algae in Australia – research report

February 17th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Fuel-Research

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Growing Fuel from Algae in Australia – research report

Excerpts from this research report

1. Australia is well placed to develop industries based on these ubiquitous, single-celled organisms, according to work done by the Australian research network BEAM (Biotechnical and Environmental Applications of Microalgae). Australia has high algal diversity in our inland lakes and rivers and a successful existing industry to build upon. South Australia and Western Australia are already leading producers of natural beta-carotene from two large commercial plants.

2. Australian researchers are now working on a range of projects seeking to further exploit the potential of microalgae for fuel.

3. Commercial culture of microalgae is one of the modern biotechnologies and the Australian research network BEAM.

4. In a recent project funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Dr Jian Qin, of Flinders University, investigated the use of a well-studied green alga known as Botryococcus braunii, or Bb for short, as a supplier of biological hydrocarbons. Bb is a colonial alga of lakes and reservoirs, where it blooms into large, green, floating mats – and it’s a remarkably oily little plant. Up to 75% of the dry weight of this particular species is a natural hydrocarbon that can be converted into petrol, diesel or turbine fuel or other liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons.

5. Australia is fortunate that they have ideal conditions for B. braunii culture. They need radiant
energy to photosynthesise, and Aus has plenty of sunlight, and they are tolerant of saline water, of which we have more than enough. At Flinders, we have closely determined the optimum conditions for Bb growth in terms of temperature, light and salinity with a view to commercial culture.’

6. The researchers found that to obtain the maximum biomass of algae and the best hydrocarbon production, the optimum culture conditions for this strain are: a temperature of 23°C, a light intensity of 30–60 W/m2 irradiance, a photoperiod of 12 hours light and 12 hours dark, and salinity of 8.8%. This last finding confirms that the alga is tolerant of brackish

7. For cost-effective production of biofuels from B. braunii, scientists will need to select or engineer strains with still faster growth and greater hydrocarbon production. It is not yet an
economic proposition, says a scientist.

Personalities and organizations mentioned:
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation; Dr Jian Qin, of Flinders University; Australian research network BEAM (Biotechnical and Environmental Applications of Microalgae), Biotechnology company SQC Pty. Ltd.

Nature gave us oil from algae; perhaps we should try Nature’s way again

Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae
Oilgae Blog; The complete list of Oilgae Blog articles.
algOS – Biodiesel from Algae Open Source

About Oilgae – Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae has a focus on biodiesel production from algae while also discussing alternative energy in general. Algae present an exciting possibility as a feedstock for biodiesel, and when you realise that oil was originally formed from algae – among other related plants – you think “Hey! Why not oil again from algae!”

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