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Algae Fuels- Emerging opportunity for India 7

When algae are grown they should be provided the best possible conditions to achieve their growth potential. I was earlier a bit skeptical about growing algae in open-ponds. However, when I visualize a country such as India - a few states in India have ample of land, sunshine throughout the year and easy access to marine water, isn't growing algae in open-ponds using marine water a good option? I say it's a big YES!

Many scientists claim that filtered sea water is a good medium for algae to grow, though additional nutrient requirement to some extent might be required. Again, the nutrient cost is less, research studies reveal that it is as less as $1 for 80 Kg's of algae biomass.

Considering the harvesting of algae, cheap labor is a major advantage offered by India, so why not use semi-automated methods for harvesting algae which is less energy intensive and less costly.

Apparently, there are a few algae farms, specifically Spirulina farms which are managed by the local village women. There is a farm at Madurai - Follow the link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6cslNtc6P4
wherein there are 40 tanks maintained by 15 women, they take care of both the upstream and the downstream processes of spirulina cultivation and production of the end-product.

All this might not be exactly the same for biofuel strains of algae, however, in my opinion,this is how things should evolve for algae biofuel commercialization in India as well.

As said earlier, most of the states in India experiences sunlight throughout the year, so solar drying is an excellent option.Similarly, dewatering is also done manually. Here I foresee an issue for extraction, as for Spirulina, it is dried, powdered and sold at a high price. There are other challenges if biofuels are considered, extraction is difficult.

May be along with biofuel, some expensive by-product should be produced. Many companies are actually trying to that, a few Indian researchers are producing biobutanol and other products to cope up the cost.
Video :
Wed August 18 2010 10:06:48 AM by Sumukhi cultivation  |  open-ponds  |  algae  |  Biofuel 2934 views

Comments - 5

  • Kn3200 wrote:
    Wed August 18 2010 11:27:43 PM

    sumukhi,

    It seems to me that the challenge is to make the best possible use of algae under ambient local conditions, rather than investing heavily in infrastructure needded to grow something approaching an algal monoculture. I mean, look at agriculture in the US. We invest so much energy and $$ in production that it practically mandates deep subsidies.

    I have recently been reading "The most Powerful Idea in the World" and it occurs to me that what motivated James Watt to find a technology that improved on early steam engines is precisely what we need to focus on now - cost effectiveness....reducing the cost of producing the product, rather than finding more exotic, highly "efficient" strains or synthetic environments add cost. And yet we know that algae largely created our atmosphere and probably created most of the oil we depend on today.

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  • Manohar wrote:
    Thu August 19 2010 12:33:35 AM

    This is a great beginning for what should India do to grow algae in all its semi arable lands, coastal belts with saline water and unutilised lands. What should all the power plants, cement plants and other industrial plants with chimneys that belch CO2 should do to minimise the CO2. As you have rightly pointed out, co products is the way to go.
    Biomass is a great product or by product, whatever one wants tocall it. Algae biomass that substitutes coal to any extent is an opportunity and its viablilty will be there if there is some co product.

    India is an agricultural country. Here the Gov must subsidise/ fund activity in such unused lands that can minimise CO2 and at the same time create lively hood for many farmers.

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  • Shankar wrote:
    Thu August 19 2010 12:35:53 AM

    Why only algae fuels ?
    Why not nutriciticals, which is bringing about viability for many companies in europe and usa ?

    Large companies like Reliance and Tatas should invest in research.
    Governemnts should fund research and cultivation immediately.

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  • Aathmika wrote:
    Thu August 19 2010 12:38:33 AM

    Industry university nexus is important for research to go forward in algae fuel/ algae co products / alage biomass areas.
    We need funding for lab scale, pilot scale etc.,

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  • Aathmika wrote:
    Thu August 19 2010 01:33:21 AM

    Grow algae to the cosmetic and food industry !

    Make biobutanol from algae to the chemical industry. Grow algae for it.
    Grow algae for omega-3 fatty acids and proteins for the dietary supplements market.
    Grow algae for bio mass. as animal feed and fish feed.
    All those who know better please contribute to make a viable roadmap for India.
    This blog should lead to a road map for India.
    shankar posted the road map for algae in usa.
    Let us have one for india, developed by this club memebers.

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