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Algae Fuel News from Biomass Magazine Apr 2010 Issue

The April 2010 issue of Biomass Magazine released three interesting articles related to algae fuels.
1. Open Ponds Versus Closed Bioreactors by Anna Austin
2. Biofuels or Bust by Lisa Gibson
3. Great Green Hope: The Corporate Love Affair with Algae by Todd Taylor

These articles provide enormous insights on the algae fuel domain. I am providing below a short summary of these articles:

1. Open pond Versus Closed Bioreactors - This article compares the merits and demerits of open algae cultivation systems with those of closed systems like bioreactors. Some companies like Bodega Algae and Origin oil prefer to grow algae in closed photobioreactors whereas, some companies like bioalgene are keen on growing algae in open systems. Despite the fact that open ponds are cheap, companies use closed systems to avoid contamination and to have a proper control over the cultivation environment. This article clearly highlights the need for inexpensive photobioreactor systems for growing algae.

2. Biofuels or Bust - It is true that algae have enormous potential as a fuel source, but the technology for large scale commercialization is still not clear. Riggs Eckelberry, president and CEO of California-based OriginOil Inc., suggests growing of algae next to wastewater treatment plant as one viable option for large scale commercialization. According to him, the three major problems with large scale algae cultivation are:
i. Cell density
ii. Quality of oil, and
iii. Oil extraction
Having these three as major barriers, Riggs visualizes algae fuel commercialization to be within 5 - 7 years.

3. Great Green Hope: The Corporate Love Affair with Algae - Most of the attention has been focused on algae biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuel. The companies are also interested in the other high-value products like chemicals, feed, nutraceuticals and food industries, as the production of algae-derived products may be simpler than fuels and the markets may also be readily accessible. The article features companies like Mars Symbioscience Inc., Cargill Inc., which are actively exploring non-fuel products from algae.
Wed April 07 2010 03:29:17 AM by Parkavi 2 Algae-fuel-industry

Microalgae Biofixation Network

When I was browsing through IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme website (http://www.co2captureandstorage.info/networks/Biofixation.htm), I came to know that the organization has a separate wing for Microalgae-based carbon capture: International Network on Biofixation of CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Abatement with Microalgae.

The Microalgae Biofixation Network was started in June 2002. The Microalgae Biofixation Network provides a structure and mechanism by which expertise can be shared, critical mass reached and research projects co-ordinated to help focus R&D efforts on the most promising approaches towards practical applications.
The objective of the Microalgae Biofixation Network is to promote the research and development of microalgae-based greenhouse gas abatement technologies over a ten year time horizon. These objectives will be accomplished through:

## Information sharing and co-ordination of R&D projects carried out by Network members
## Development of bi- and/or multi-lateral R&D projects among members
## Technical assistance provided by technical advisers in the evaluation of proposed processes and R&D projects
## Supporting techno-economic analysis and resource assessments
## Organisation of technical meetings and technical resources
## Develop a periodic updating of a 'Roadmap' that details feasible processes and R&D approaches

A study conducted by biofixation network evaluated the applications and potential contributions, on a regional and global scale, of microalgae biofixation processes mainly in conjunction with the treatment of municipal and agricultural wastewater. This report can be obtained by sending an e-mail with the company's name and address to Dr. John Benemann, The Biofixation Chairman @ JBenemann@aol.com.

This report was carried out by TNO for the International Network on Biofixation of CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Abatement with Microalgae and was sponsored by EniTecnologie S.p.A., the R&D arm of the Italian oil & gas company Eni. It is intended as a strategic tool for R&D personnel and managers, policy makers, and others who are interested in evaluating the various technology options, including biological, for GHG abatement as well as related environmental and sustainability issues.

I will send a request mail right away for the report, and will update the status soon.
Sat April 03 2010 04:12:16 AM by Parkavi 3 Algae-Carbon-Capture

National Algae Association's Scholarship Program

The National Algae Association is highly committed to the development of algae fuel technology. NAA is trying hard to move the industry from lab-scale to commercial-scale.

As a part of NAA's mission, it has introduced a Scholarship Program. The Scholarship Program will be funded by donations which will make table-top areas available for conference attendees to distribute their printed materials.

The Scholarship Program is also providing scholarships to students enrolled in a certificate or degree granting program specializing in the advancement of algae as an alternative fuel.

The applicants are required to submit a completed application form, high-school transcripts and SAT scores or GPA, along with evidence of enrollment, a personal statement for consideration, and a commitment to update NAA on how he/she benefited from the funds. The Selection Committee will evaluate factors such as academic achievement as well as commitment to the mission of fast-tracking algae as an alternative fuel. NAA will use their efforts to dispense the funds throughout the year to worthy applicants for tuition, books and lab fees.

URL: http://www.nationalalgaeassociation.com/scholarship.html
Sat April 03 2010 03:15:08 AM by Parkavi 12 Algae-Fuel-Funding

Why algae fuels not commercialized yet?

I read a research abstract recently published - Proponents of microalgae biofuel technologies often claim that the world demand of liquid fuels, about 5 trillion liters per year, could be supplied by microalgae cultivated on only a few tens of millions of hectares. This perspective reviews this subject and points out that such projections are greatly exaggerated, because

(1) The productivities achieved in large-scale commercial microalgae production systems, operated year-round, do not surpass those of irrigated tropical crops.

(2) Cultivating, harvesting and processing microalgae solely for the production of biofuels is simply too expensive using current or prospective technology; and

3) Currently available (limited) data suggest that the energy balance of algal biofuels is very poor. Thus, microalgal biofuels are no panacea for depleting oil or global warming, and are unlikely to save the internal combustion machine.

On reading this abstract, It appears that algae fuels cannot be commercialized before ten years from now. But I believe that the current research trends could address these problems to some extent.

For the first point on yield, algae are single celled, and can multiply very fast. The rate of biomass produced is eventually higher. Unlike land crops which are harvested once in a period of 3 months or six months, algae can double its biomass every hour making it harvestable daily.

It is indeed true that the cost of cultivation and harvesting is not cost competitive. But the current research on process integration (integrating various processes such as harvesting and extraction of oil into a single step process) and research on production of high value chemicals as by products can overcome this problem to some extent.

Energy balance is still not clear due to various processes employed in each step of the product conversion. May be I should read up a bit more on this aspect of algae fuels.
Fri April 02 2010 04:06:34 AM by Parkavi 10 Algae-fuel-industry

Seaweed Fibres for Better Digestion

The latest and greatest use of seaweed is the fibrous alginate extracted from sea kelp, which can be added to everyday products such as bread, and reduce fat absorption in the body by 75 percent. The findings, which came out of Newcastle University in the U.K., were presented this week at the American Chemical Society's spring meeting in San Francisco.

The Newcastle University team tested the effectives of 60 types of fibers, utilizing an artificial gut, to gauge the extent that the aided in the digestion of fat. The results showed that kelp came out on top and proved more effective than most anti-obesity treatments available over the counter.
Thu March 25 2010 07:41:18 AM by Parkavi 4 Macroalgae

Introduction to the NMMUs Micro-Algae to Biofuels Project

You are cordially invited to an introduction to the NMMU?s Micro-Algae to Biofuels Project.

Program:

Tea and Coffee on arrival

Welcome and Introduction - Ms Jaci Barnett

Introduction to Micro-Algae - Dr Derek du Preez

Overview of the NMMU micro-algae to biofuels project - Prof Ben Zeelie

Overview of Zalgen: The South African Algae and Energy Company - Mr Otto Lessing

Questions and Answers

RSVP: Natasha Luiters at Natasha.luiters@nmmu.ac.za or tel, 041-504 3281 by 12:00 on 02 February 2010.
Fri February 19 2010 07:24:05 AM by Parkavi 7 Algae-Conference

8th European Workshop Biotechnology of Microalgae

The 8th European workshop Biotechnology of Microalgae is a panel that discusses the present state and the future possibilities of phototrophic biotechnology in the field of PBR design, cosmetics, food and feed applications, and bioenergy.

Event Type: Conference
Event Venue: Bergholz-Rehbrucke, Germany
Dates: 07.Jun.2010 to 10.Jun.2010
Tel: 49 33200 89156
Fax: 49 33200 89158
Fri February 19 2010 06:46:25 AM by Parkavi Algae-Conference