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Richard's Blog

A breath of CO2, a gulp of water, while basking in the sun !

Meet the cyanobacteria, green algae and (photosynthetic)diatoms that may lend a helping hand to fuel the humanrace.
Here is an article published by Rob J. W. Brooijmans and Roland J. Siezen
on the Genomics of microalgae !!
The article has a detailed figure which has the evolutionary relationships of 20species with sequenced genomes usedfor comparative analyses, includingcyanobacteria and non-photosyntheticeubacteria, archaea and eukaryotes from theoomycetes, diatoms, rhodophytes, plants,amoebae and opisthokonts
The article also has publicly available complete genome of Cyanobacteria.
They are an ancient group whose evolution of photosynthesisled to the initial oxygenation of earth?s atmosphere,some 2.5 billion years ago. Even plastids, the essentialorganelles for photosynthesis in eukaryotic microalgaeand higher plants trace back to the engulfment(s) of cyanobacteria.

The article further says " What further increase inlipid content by metabolic engineering can be expected"
The immediate future for metabolic engineering withmicroalgae may lie in the (over)production of high-valuechemicals or biomass components. 

For example, theunique bioactive compounds of cyanobacteria that keepswimmers from summer lakes may find pharmaceuticalinterest. 

In green algae the production of the omega fattyacids, a popular food supplement with high economicvalue, could be increased (Pulz and Gross, 2004). Withmore completed diatom genome sequences, key genesmay be identified that dictate the building plans of themyriad of silica dioxide structures.
 Indeed, fine tuning ofhigh-precision cheap bioproduction of nanoscale componentsreads like a 'patent pending'. 
Therefore, microalgaehave much more to offer us than a cheap hit of diesel. 
Let us savour them for their unique metabolism and theirbeauty now, and take comfort in the thought that they willbe there to save us when the last barrels of oil are hauledfrom the earth. "

Richard Spyros
Sun September 12 2010 11:31:45 PM by Richard cyanobacteria  |  Genome  |  Rob J W Brooijmans  |  Roland J Siezen3

Bio fuels IP

Looking at the profile of our club, ie oilgae club, we have a lot of experienced people, lot acadamia, research scholars, students, PhD students, etc
It will be great if we can get to discuss, topics like Papers published on algal oil, algae nutraceuticals etc.,

It will also be nice if we can discuss various patents made on different but relative topics.
Now, look at this unique company.

IPVision, Inc. provides strategic patent analysis and patent portfolio assessments - helping companies, management and experts obtain timely, cost-effective insights into the intellectual property perspective of their business decisions.
 We help companies align their IP with their business strategies, develop new IP strategies, track competitors and technologies and analyze merger and acquisition possibilities.
 Venture capital and private equity investors use IPVision to understand the impact of IP on their investments and in transaction due diligence. IPVision's patented approach provides unique insights which enable collaborative, evidence-based decisions and actions.  
 Offerings include a range of Standard Reports, Project Services and the See-the-Forest and IPVision Advantage decision support systems. 
Formed in 1998, IPVision developed its intellectual property expertise, algorithms and tools in the course of commercializing technologies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  
 Additional information about how IPVision helps executives and experts can be found on the IPVision Website where you can request a complementary Supplemental IP Report on this month's Technology Review Briefing on Fuels.
And also read this article in Technology Review published by MIThttp://www.technologyreview.in/energy/26076/it is on Bio fuels IP
Fri September 03 2010 11:43:06 PM by Richard 1 MIT  |  technology review  |  Bio fuels IP

Building Microbial Fuel Factories

Joule Unlimited, a startup based in Cambridge, MA, is genetically altering photosynthetic micro organisms so that over their lifetime, they devote only 5 percent of the solar energy they absorb to growing and staying alive. 

The rest goes to secreting a steady supply of diesel fuel.
 The company, which is building a pilot plant in Leander, TX, says its process will generate 15 to 25 times as much fuel per acre as technology for making fuels from cellulosic biomass, but that it will take several years to demonstrate at a large scale.

 Synthetic Genomics, with funding from ExxonMobil that could exceed $300 million, is taking a similar approach, working with algae.

Richard Spyros

Fri September 03 2010 11:26:12 PM by Richard 1 joule unlimited  |  photosynthetic micro organisms

Wet algae to biodiesel - two step process !!

Researchers at the University of Michigan have published the feasibility of a two-step hydrolysis-solvolysis process to produce biodiesel directly from wet algal biomass, eliminating the need for costly biomass drying, organic solvent extraction and catalysts. 
The paper on the process was published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. 

In the first step, wet algal biomass contained 80 percent moisture and was reacted with subcritical water to hydrolyze intracellular lipids, conglomerate cells into an easily filterable solid that retained the lipids and produced a sterile, nutrient-rich aqueous phase. 
In the second step, the wet, fatty acid-rich solids underwent supercritical transesterification with ethanol to produce fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs). 
The team used Chlorella vulgaris algae, which contained 53.3 percent lipid content. 

According to Phillip Savage, lead researcher on the project, the team gathered the wet algae grown from the lab and centrifuged it to transform the algal biomass into a paste-like substance. "At large scale that probably wouldn't be applicable for an economical process," he noted. "We got something that was probably around 10 to 20 percent solids to the balance of water."
The research yielded promising results, Savage added, but the project is anticipated to be refined and optimized in order for to demonstrate greater economic and environmental feasibility of the process on a larger scale.
"More remains to be understood regarding how whole cells, hydrothermally processed algal biomass and intracellular constituents influence supercritical transesterification and potentially contribute to nonester components in the final fuel product," the paper reported.

 "Additional research and process optimization are likely to improve yields and reduce process inputs (e.g. ethanol), thereby minimizing the overall environmental impact of algal biodiesel production. 
To be economically viable, biodiesel yields must be above 95 percent and preferably higher than current norms achieved with alkali-catalyzed processes."
Richard Spyros
Thu September 02 2010 02:02:04 AM by Richard 32 solvlysis  |  hydrolysis  |  two step process  |  ACS

Bioplastics from blooms !?

AVS was selected by the DOE for a $6M ARPA-E award to commercialize its ?disruptive? HDD technology.
All of us are aware of it.
  Algaeventure Systems is currently overseeing a $25,000 pilot project in Grand Lake St. Marys, funded by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. 
It is hoped the 2.5 acre study will demonstrate the company's ability to turn harmful blue green algae into non-toxic algae by adding silica (sand).
Scientists and researchers are working inside a central Ohio lab at Algaeventure Systems. They are hoping to unlock the secrets of algae as they run tests in tanks and do examinations under microscopes.

Scientists have studied the harmful algal bloom at Grand Lake St. Marys and have an exciting proposal. 
"Could we flip that lake from, in essence, a bad algae to a good algae? In the lab we've been able to do that," said Algaeventure Systems CEO Ross Youngs.
Algaeventure Systems offers a chance to people who live at the lake. Youngs and his colleagues have been developing this technology for the last few years.
"Our primary technology is water solid separation on a microscopic scale," Youngs said.
In fact, the equipment and machines they have created are already being sold to companies interested in harvesting the algae and turning it into a reusable product.
"You could be potentially producing foods or feeds," Youngs added. "You could be producing fertilizers, chemicals, and potentially plastics."
He said this new technology is just the tip of the iceberg. 
"Algae technologies is going to explode onto the future before people even know it," he said.
more http://www.10tv.com/live/content/onnnews/stories/2010/08/30/story_green_ohio_algae.html
Thu September 02 2010 12:42:34 AM by Richard 2 algae venture systems  |  algae blooms  |  algae plastics

Genome Signatures Enable Tracking of Algal Complexity

Researchers led by the DOE Joint Genome Institute and the Salk Institute present the 138 million nucleotide genome of Volvox carteri, a multicellular alga that captures light energy through photosynthesis.
 The Volvox genome was compared with that of the unicellular alga and close relative Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, whose genome was made available three years ago by the DOE JGI.
Both algae belong to the Volvocales family and both are used for researched for biofuel capability.
"The work that I've been interested in all my life, which is understanding the origin of multicellularity in this group, has only just begun with the sequence of the genome," said Kirk, considered the grandfather of Volvox biology and a staunch advocate for using the alga to study multicellularity. "Now the answers are going to be much more readily accessible. I sort of wish I had been born later so I could participate, but I'm going to be on the sidelines cheering."
YOu can get more about it at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100709143417.htm
It is so nice to read about the life and times of researchers, isn't it mates !
Richard Spyros
Tue August 31 2010 12:43:42 PM by Richard DOE  |  jgi

Water requirement for biofuels

"There is simply not enough water for biofuels" states the article in CO2science.org.

i know, you guys are already saying that for algae, we dont need fresh water. We need saline water and sewage water and water that is to be treated are enough etc.,

These scientists are also talking about EROWI
Energy returned on water invested.
I agree with the concept, given the impending shortage of water.
You know what the scientists are saying ?
" the most water-efficient, fossil-based technologies have an EROWI one to two orders of magnitude greater  than the most water-efficient biomass technologies, ."

Read the article here

Sat August 28 2010 03:12:52 AM by Richard 3 water and biofuels  |  EROWI

Bioethanol from microalge - AU

Mr Peng Su, Flinders university, Australia

This project is aimed to test a bioprocess concept of producing fuel-ethanol from marine green algae, which covers photoautotrophic growth of algae, harvest of algal biomass, enzymatic liquefaction and saccharification, and yeast fermentation to produce ethanol. The project is to demonstrate this process concept with the 10-month period of a Masters project.
In the first part of the project, a basic bubble-column photobioreactor system for cultivation of green microalga Tetraselmis suecica was established and tested. Under the optimised condition, algal cell density reached 3.36 * 106 /ml after 8 days cultivation.

The bacterial contamination was identified as a serious issue in maintaining the pure cultivation and efforts have been made to identify the contaminated bacteria and their control techniques.

In the second part, the biochemical composition of algal biomass was characterized. Starch, protein and lipid content are 17.81%, 15.85% and 19.11 % by dry matter respectively.

In the third part, a basic process for liquefaction and saccharification of algal starch were carried out by enzymatic hydrolysis. However, the yield of glucose production from algal biomass was low.

Finally, a yeast strain, Avolvin (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), was selected for the ethanol fermentation of algal biomass. With the 14.00 g/L glucose from the hydrolysed algal biomass and Novozyme enzyme preparations as substrate, 5.18 g/L ethanol was produced via fermentation.

In summary, the results from this preliminary study demonstrate a potential process concept of producing bioethanol from green algal biomass, pointing to a number of scientific and technical challenges ahead to achieve economical feasibility.
Mon August 23 2010 01:02:03 PM by Richard 4 ethanol fermentation  |  avolvin  |  bioethanol

Low cost Harvesting, dewatering and drying !

I have read in our club that harvesting and drying adds considerably to the overall cost of oil from algae.

Heres Algae venture systems. They have been funded by ARPA . They are considered to be having the most scientific method.

The Algae Venture System's HDD system?s novel absorbent moving belt harvester reduces the energy costs of harvesting, dewatering, and drying microalgae by over 90%. The biggest breakthrough is that the harvester pulls water from the screened algae using low-energy capillary action. Thus the algae is dewatered without pressure and separates easily from the screen when dry. Drying can occur naturally through evaporation or mechanically with a small amount of waste heat. The technology offers the potential to transform the economics of algae-based biofuel production by removing one of the major barriers to large scale commercialization.

Their website says

" AVS has developed and demonstrated an innovative technology for separating suspended algae out of solution that dramatically reduces energy consumption by utilizing surface physics and capillary action. Harvest, dewater, and dry (HDD), winner of a highly competitive grant from U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), radically improves the economics of algae-based biofuel production, and removes a major barrier to large-scale commercialization of this renewable alternative fuel source. Furthermore, this technology holds the potential to revolutionize the removal of solids from dilute solutions in a wide range of industries.

As shown in the figure below, HDD consists of two belts moving in opposing directions. Solution containing the desired solid is poured through a spout on to the top belt, which is moving from left to right on the schematic. Water passes through the belt, while the solid remains on top. A capillary belt moving in a countercurrent direction passes directly underneath the first belt. The capillary belt is wetted and helps draw the water through the top belt using liquid adhesion. The concept for HDD was influenced by web-fed plastic processing, a method of Univenture manufacturing for 25 years. "
Wed August 18 2010 02:35:22 AM by Richard 8 harvesting  |  drying  |  dewatering