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Grow Biofuel, Biodiesel in Bioreactor with Light, Algae, CO2

October 19th, 2006 | 1 Comment | Posted in Algae-Fuel-Research, Algae-Photobioreactor

Factory Farmed Biofuel

by Ramesh Suri

Complete article here

Growing Biofuel in a Bioreactor Using Light, Algae & CO2


1. The best way to extract fuel from algae, however, may be through using a totally enclosed “bioreactor.”

2. Biofuel boom is already having unintended negative consequences.

3. In the following assessment of biofuel produced in a “bioreactor” from algae, the pitfalls of producing biofuel from algae ponds is recognized, and then the author explains the potential to produce biofuel within illuminated, enclosed containers, infused with carbon dioxide.

4. Characteristics of algae cultivation are: The productivity per area is 2 to 5 fold higher as compared with traditional agricultural crops; Lower quality water can be used for growing algae; Algal systems can remove CO2 (and NOx) from flue gases; Many algal species produce valuable products, such as colorants, polyunsaturated fatty acids and bioactive compounds; The remaining biomass can be used for production of ‘green’ electricity and heat. Alternatively, microalgae can be used for the production of methylester fuel (bio-diesel).

5. From 1978 to 1996, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fuels Development funded a program to develop renewable transportation fuels from algae. The main focus of the program, known as Aquatic Species Program (pdf)(or ASP), was the production of biodiesel from high lipid-content algae grown in ponds utilizing waste CO2 from coal fired power plants.

6. GreenFuel Technologies Corp., a Massachusetts based research company, is working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for algae to fuel process.


8. GreenFuel uses an implementation of an air-lift reactor (ALR), which is a type of pneumatic contacting device in which fluid circulation takes place in a defined cyclic pattern through channels built specifically for this purpose.

9. The GreenFuel team has been growing algae on the Cogen gases, and harvesting algae ‘crops’ daily. Algae reduced NOx day and night, regardless of temporal and weather conditions. An evaluation certified that over the seven-day test period, the GreenFuel beta system simultaneously removed 85.9 percent NOx, and 50-80 percent CO2.

10. The Academic and University Centre in Nove Hrady, Czech Republic developed a closed tubular photobioreactor.

11. GreenShift Corporation has acquired rights to Ohio University’s patented cynaobacteria based bioreactor process for reducing greenhouse gases emissions from fossil-fuel combustion processes.

12. Future research in this area would involve determination of the operational and economic feasibility of such systems for organic biomass production from the viewpoint of cement industry. This would lead to sequestration of CO2 produced from cement manufacturing and production of biofuel as an alternate fuel.

Oilgae Academic Edition showcases case studies on algae research efforts in respective areas such as waste water treatment, CO2 sequestration and power plants.

References mentioned in the article:

Novakovic, G.V., Kim, Y., Wu, X., Berzin, I., and Merchuk, J.C., 2005. Air-Lift Bioreactors for Algal Growth on Flue Gas: Mathematical Modeling and Pilot-Plant Studies. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. Vol. 44, pp. 6154-6163.

Sheehan, J., Dunahay, T., Beneman, J. and Roessler,P., 1998. A Look Back at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species ProgramBiodiesel from Algae. U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fuels Development.

De Boer, A.J., and van Doorn, J., 1998. Combined production of chemicals and biomass with microalgae in a closed photobioreactor. ECN Contribution to the 10th European Conference: ‘Biomass for energy and industry’. ECNRX-98-003, pp. 27-29.

Reith, J.H., van Doorn, J., Mur, L.R., Kalwij, R., Bakema,G. and van der Lee, G., 2000. Sustainable co-production of natural fine chemicals and biofuels from microalgae. Conference Biomass for Energy and Industry, Sevilla, June 2000.

Bayless, D.J., et al., 2002. Enhanced Practical Photosynthetic CO2 Mitigation (http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/proceedings/01/carbon_seq/5a4.pdf)

Masojdek, J., Pap?cek, S., Sergejevov?, M., Jirka, V., Cerven, J., Kunc, J., Korecko, J., Verbovikova, O., Kopeck, J., tys, D. and Torzillo, G., 2003. A closed solar photobioreactor for cultivation of microalgae under supra-high irradiance: basic design and performance. Journal of Applied Phycology, Vol. 15, pp. 239-248.

Algae strains mentioned: Didymosphenia geminata.

See also: Oilgae Blog Article Directory for a complete listing of all Oilgae blog posts – covering news, research and updates on biodiesel from algae & other plant feedstock, ethanol, and other renewable energy such as wind energy, hydrogen, hydro-energy, tidal/wave energy, geothermal, solar energy & nuclear energy

Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae
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algOS – Biodiesel from Algae Open Source

Oilgae – Oil & Biodiesel from Algae provides links, directory, web links resources for algae-based biofuels & biodiesel. Intended to be useful for research, information, inputs, news for buyers, sellers, manufacturers, traders, suppliers, producers, exporters / importers of algal oil and algal fuels. Will provide info on biofuel feedstock, algal feedstocks, algae oil and link details on fuel from algae, bio-fuel, bio-diesel, algal oils & bio-fuels production and uses, biofuels trade & market resources, price data, statistics, prices, demand-supply for buyer, seller, manufacturer, trader, supplier, exporter and producer

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One Response to “Grow Biofuel, Biodiesel in Bioreactor with Light, Algae, CO2”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Algae consumes carbon dioxide, by this reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Most algae farm are being built right next to coal fired electricity plants so they have a steaalgae biodieseldy supply of CO2. [ photobioreactor algae ]

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