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Bicarbonate of soda triggers lipid growth in algae - Joe jones

Skyonic is a start up. Joe Jones is the CEO.

Skyonic like Calera is opting to to scrub flue gas of coal plants and extract the co2 from the waste stream -- in an energy-efficient way.

Now, the company has gained another potential market -- algal biofuels.

"Algae biofuel producers have made inquiries," according to the CEO, because bicarbonate of soda apparently speeds algal maturation and also triggers lipid growth. Feeding algae sodium bicarbonate instead of raw carbon dioxide eliminates many of the plumbing and circulation issues that come with pumping CO2 into algae ponds.

It is interesting.
How does one recycle the sodium from the algal biofuel plant ?
In other words what happens to all the chlorine that is a byproduct of caustic soda production?

Interesting it certainly is !


Fri December 03 2010 10:15:28 PM by Richard 9 skyonic  |  joe jones  |  sodium bicarbonate  |  triggering lipid growth of algae  |  coal plant and algae

An Outlook on Microalgal Biofuels

Here is an abstract of an article in Sciencemag.org

" Microalgae are considered one of the most promising feedstocks for biofuels. The productivity of these photosynthetic microorganisms in converting carbon dioxide into carbon-rich lipids, only a step or two away from biodiesel, greatly exceeds that of agricultural oleaginous crops, without competing for arable land. Worldwide, research and demonstration programs are being carried out to develop the technology needed to expand algal lipid production from a craft to a major industrial process. Although microalgae are not yet produced at large scale for bulk applications, recent advances—particularly in the methods of systems biology, genetic engineering, and biorefining—present opportunities to develop this process in a sustainable and economical way within the next 10 to 15 years."

The authors are  René H. Wijffels and Maria J. Barbosa

It is a paid article and if you are interested go here


Thu November 25 2010 11:31:17 PM by Richard 2 sciencemag  |  Rene wijffels  |  Maria J Barbosa  |  biofuels

MIT Prof Stephanopoulos gets a grant for heterotrophic microbe research

According to Prof Stephanopoulos, the technology makes use of an engineered microbe. The technnology is an attempt  to convert carbohydrate feedstocks into lipids. 
Once the carbohydrates are converted into lipids, the methodology to get biodiesel is kind of straightforward.Standard transesterification would do.
The method is expensive as it doesnt make use of free CO2.
This news gives us an idea as to where the research funding is going. 
Fri November 19 2010 01:49:32 PM by Richard 32 Prof Stephanopoulos  |  algae to biodiesel  |  MIT

Sapphire energy announces oil in 18 months

When Sapphire Energy announced the appointment of an Oil Industry veteran Dean Venardos a fortnight ago I new there is more news from them.
Dean Venardos has  a wealth of experience in refinery operations and processes and can  use his rich knowledge base to ensure Sapphire's facility operations are managed perfectly as the company continues on its growth trajectory.
And now Sapphire announces oil from algae in 18 months. Read what Tim Zenk, vice president of corporate affairs has to say http://www.sapphireenergy.com/news-article/180828-sapphire-energy-algae-oil-in-18
Tue November 16 2010 01:09:39 PM by Richard 6 Tim Zenk  |  Sapphire energy  |  algae biofuel  |  algae oil extraction  |  algae harvesting  |  algae cultivation  | 

Micro bubbles to improve the aeration efficiency

Will Zimmerman, professor of Biochemical Dynamical Systems at the University of Sheffield, was awarded the very prestigious Royal Society Brian Mercer award for innovation on Oct. 14, for his work on Micro Bubble energy saving technology. AECOM has been a partner in this work which will ultimately transform the cost and effectiveness of treating wastewater, growing algae and cooling computers. Zimmerman also received a quarter of a million pound prize from the Royal Society to further develop this technology.
AECOM has been working closely with Sheffield University and Zimmerman over the last four years to develop innovative technologies that greatly reduce the amount of energy used to treat water and wastewater. This particular system devised by Zimmerman requires 80 percent less energy than existing methods of creating bubbles for treatment processes.
The technology uses very fine micro bubbles to improve the aeration efficiency at wastewater treatment works. This is an essential part of most wastewater treatment processes, which allows the effluent to be discharged without causing harm to the aquatic environment.
Brenda Franklin, global technologist, AECOM, reports, 'This is a very exciting technology and we are looking forward to working with Professor Zimmerman to test this process at full scale. Just the U.K. alone uses more than 2,000 Giga-Watt hours of electricity a year to treat wastewater, which is approximately half a percent of the total electricity used in the country and is equivalent to 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. If successful, at full scale there is a terrific opportunity to provide many treatment plant operators with substantial savings at their facilities.'
Professor Zimmerman said,  AECOM has been a tremendous development partner. Taking an invention that works in idealized conditions in the lab into a real world industrial plant is an enormous leap, and could never have been done without the insight into process requirements and imagination of the AECOM staff.
 Innovation can only occur if visionary process experts, such as those at AECOM, are open to new ideas and can picture how the invention provides a foundation for the solution. AECOM is actively engaged with three development partnerships on energy efficient micro bubbles, each with unique selling points focused on transfer rates, flotation separation, and ozone delivery.
Sun November 07 2010 11:28:58 PM by Richard 6 Brenda Franklin  |  Sheffield University  |  Zimmerman  |  aeration efficiency  |  aeration

Algal biofuels and the future of renewable energy

The 21st century will see humanity face many great challenges, including managing climate change, promoting sustainable economic growth and accommodating our growing global population.
 However, one of the most immediate concerns is our dependence on non-renewable sources of energy, which not only have an uncertain future in terms of supply, but that also exacerbate the effects of climate change.
According to Associate Professor Ben Hankamer, who works on renewable energy biofuel production from microalgae at the University of Queensland, even if fossil fuels will be around for a while, they're far from an ideal energy source for the future.
 'Regardless of what everyone thinks about fuel security and the price of oil, the fact is that whatever supplies we have left will become more and more expensive to get out of the ground and supply to users,' he says.
'Therefore, it makes sense environmentally and economically to establish green jobs and develop new industries with the ultimate aim of building a sustainable economic base. If we can get clean, renewable technologies to a usable point, the fluctuations in oil prices will cease to be the issue they are, and we will be in a much better position in terms of economic stability. Because, in the end, all of our economies and our responses to climate change depend on stable fuel supplies.'
Read about the International Solar Bio-fuels Consortium established by Associate Professor Ben Hankamer
Having truly 'clean and green' fuels means having a sustainable source of energy to drive them. Of course, numerous choices are already being explored worldwide ? solar, wind, wave power, geothermal, amongst others ? with the largest potential source, by far, being the Sun. 
Each day the Earth receives enough solar energy to meet global energy needs 10,000 times over, with less than a fraction of one per cent of the Earth?s land mass required to catch sufficient energy to power the world. But photovoltaics is not the only way to utilise the power of the Sun; plants have been turning solar radiation into chemical energy for millions of years.

The first generation of biofuels, like ethanol made from plant biomass such as corn, wheat and sugar cane, have already been explored. However, such biofuels require a significant portion of the world?s usable land and have sparked the recent and heated 'fuel versus food' debate. 
In fact, with only about 10 per cent of the total land area on the planet classed as arable, there is simply not enough room to grow even those crops needed for biofuel production, and that's not considering the land required for food production. 
Although alternative, non-food crops, like some native grasses that grow on non-arable land, are now being looked at for fuel production, the problem of land usage remains an intractable issue.

Enter algae

Hankamer has always been interested in the processes by which plants catch sunlight and store it as chemical energy and, in particular, how this works in certain varieties of unicellular green algae.
 He also realised some time ago that this process in algae could form the basis of a sustainable source of energy products or biofuels. The last decade has seen an explosion of research and development in the field of microalgal cultivation and technology aiming for large-scale biofuel production.
Hankamer?s specific area of research at the University of Queensland?s Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Brisbane is the structural biology and biochemistry of the photosynthetic machinery that drives the first step of all biofuel production from algae. His group takes several different molecular approaches, concentrating on the development of new technologies for protein structure determination. 
By solving the three-dimensional structure of key membrane proteins and macromolecular assemblies in the photosynthetic machinery, Hankamer?s team hopes to optimise the efficiency of the algal they work with for biofuel production.
 'Knowing more about the structure of these proteins will enable us to fine tune the photosynthetic machinery through genetic engineering, and then model interactions within the system to seek a commercially viable efficiency of solar-energy transfer in these cells.'
A select group of algae seem best suited for such applications due to their naturally high solar-conversion efficiency. The green microalgae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, is one of the main stars, with certain cyanobacteria also being tried as promising candidates. 
Genetic engineering of some of these algal strains in recent years, including by Hankamer's group, has resulted in even higher energy conversion efficiencies, particular for the production of biohydrogen, as well as the ability to 'work' under different conditions, such as in saline and wastewater streams or at CO2 levels comparable with industrial environments.
The ultimate aim of Hankamer's research is to see vast algal cultures growing in large-scale bioreactors on non-arable land, basically doing what algae do best, which is to take sunlight and use it to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, with a bit of scientific tweaking here and there to boost efficiency and to tailor the output to different purposes. 
The Queensland Government has already offered support to Hankamer's project, providing endorsement and significant financial support, and Hankamer expects commercial partnerships will be procured in time.

Multitasking algae
Once the algae are growing happily, the range of products on offer from these single-celled organisms is impressive. Potentially the most promising of these in terms of sustainable fuels is hydrogen, and Hankamer has been interested in algal H2 production for many years. 
'To meet the emissions reductions targets that we will need to in the not-too-distant future, we really need a carbon-free energy and the only real alternative is hydrogen,' says Hankamer.
 'Most developed countries have a road map for hydrogen planning, including Australia, and California and Europe are building the infrastructure right now for delivering hydrogen-powered cars en masse. The major bottleneck is being able to make enough hydrogen and make it sustainably.'
Other algal bioproducts include methane from fermented algae, biodiesel from extracted oils, ethanol from carbohydrate extracts, and many other less-obvious choices that are being increasingly sought for alternative fuel systems, such as butanol. 
The algae could also be used as biomass for cattle feed or even dried and used for carbon sequestration in a form called bio-char, since algae efficiently absorb CO2 while they are growing. 
Depending on how regulations evolve in the future, this last application could be important as a storage medium for carbon that could be then returned to the soil. The potential also exists to make high-value products from processed algae with medicinal, nutritional or nutraceutical properties, such as beta-carotene, which is used in the food industry as a colouring and vitamin additive.
 Ideally, several bioproducts could result from the one algal factory, such as dried algae being used as biomass after it has gone through the biohydrogen stream.
Of course, for any of these promising ideas in algal biotechnology to proceed beyond the promising blue-sky research stage, they have to be economically viable in the real world, where the biofuels produced will running head-to-head with fossil fuels. As such, a very important part of Hankamer's research was to examine industrial feasibility models of microalgal systems to identify the key economic drivers and potential bottlenecks. To this end, his team has just completed a major feasibility study, published in Nature Biotechnology, that shone a positive light on the approach.
'Overall, the feasibility study showed that developing the microalgal systems has real economic potential and identified some key factors that we need to address to get there,' says Hankamer.
'Basically, we need to bring down bioreactor costs, optimise biomass production and co-develop a range of high-value products alongside the biofuel production. This will involve a lot more time and money to take our models and test out the practicalities in the real world. 
We also have many basic biological questions yet to answer to help address the process efficiency and cost, and our current research is targeting all of these areas. In short, our analyses have validated the technologies being developed by us and others, and fully justify taking the project to the next stage and towards commercial reality.

Algae biofuels - Promise to reality !?

Algae for Biofuels:
Moving from Promise to Reality, But How Fast?




A new report from the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) in
Berkeley projects that

development of cost-competitive algae biofuel production will
require much more longterm research, development and demonstration.


In the meantime, several non-fuel applications of algae could
serve to advance the nascent industry.


Even with relatively favorable and forward-looking process
assumptions (from cultivation to harvesting to processing), algae oil production

microalgae cultures

will be expensive and, at least in the near-to-mid-term, will
require additional income

streams to be economically viable, write

authors Nigel Quinn and Tryg Lundquist of

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,

which is a partner in the BP-funded institute.




Their conclusions stem from a detailed

techno-economic analysis of algal biofuels



The project is one of the over 70

studies on bioenergy now being pursued by

the EBI and its scientists at the University of

California at Berkeley, the University of

Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Berkeley




The algae biofuels industry
is still in its early

gestation stage, the new
report notes



Although well over 100 companies in the

U.S. and abroad are now working to produce

algal biomass and oil for transportation fuels,

most are small and none has yet operated a

pilot plant with multiple acres of algae

production systems. However, several

companies recently initiated such scale-up

projects, including several major oil

companies such as ExxonMobil (which a

year ago announced a $600 million commitment to algae biofuels
technology), Shell

(with a joint venture project, 'Cellana,' in Hawaii), and Eni (the
Italian oil company,

with a pre-pilot plant in Sicily).





The U.S. Department of Energy has funded several R&D consortia
and pilot projects, and  one 300-acre
demonstration project in New Mexico, by Sapphire Energy, Inc.


The U.S. Department of Defense is supporting several fast-track
projects. In the United Kingdom, the Carbon Trust has initiated a 10-year
effort to develop algae oil production, engaging a  dozen universities and research laboratories,
while the European Union recently funded 
three 25-acre pilot projects.



Most of these projects use the raceway, open pond-based algal
production technologies, which were analyzed in the EBI Report.


These projects hope to show that it is possible to mass culture
algae with current or near-term technology within the technical and economic
constraints required for biofuel production.



Once the technologies are developed, global resource availability
will be a major

controller of algae production, the report states.


Four key resources (suitable climate, water, flat land and carbon
dioxide) must all be available in one location for optimal algal biomass


The authors state that despite the need for all four resources,

oil production technology has the potential to produce several
billion gallons annually of

renewable fuel in the U.S.


However, achieving this goal, particularly at competitive

capital and operating costs, will require further research and



The EBI report focuses on algal biofuels produced in conjunction
with wastewater

treatment as a promising cost-effective strategy to fast-track
development of a practical

production process.


Besides providing the needed water and nutrients, use of

in algae production provides the potential for income from the
treatment service


The areas the study identified as essential for R&D are in
both the biology and

engineering fields. The ability to cultivate stable cultures under
outdoor conditions, while

achieving both high productivities and oil content, is still to be
. Despite the

well-known rapid growth rate of algae, increasing the volume of
algae oil produced per

unit of surface area per year is a crucial goal.



Oil-rich algae strains that are biologically competitive with
contaminating wild species and that consistently grow well in various climates
are needed. Other key steps to be improved are low-cost harvesting of microscopic
algae cells and the extraction of their oil content, as well as dealing with
the biomass residue remaining after oil extraction.



The report?s analysis includes five conceptual facilities for
algae pond biofuel production, four of them 250 acres in size and one of 1,000
acres. All used municipal wastewater as the source of both water and nutrients,
with some emphasizing production of oil, while others have wastewater treatment
as their main priorities.


Biofuel products included either biogas and oil or just biogas
production, with the biogas used for electricity generation.


The hypothetical location was the Imperial Valley in southern

where the only major microalgae farms in the continental U.S. are
presently located. In

the scenarios, productivity peaks in the summer months but is
essentially nil in the

coldest winter months, with light and temperature being the main
limiting factors.



Engineering designs and cost analysis for the various cases were
based on projecting

current commercial microalgae production and wastewater treatment
processes at much larger scales.


They assumed higher productivities due to plausible technological

advances. The estimated capital costs for a 250-acre biofuel
production system

emphasizing oil production were about $21 million, with annual
operating costs at around $1.5 million, to produce about 12,300 barrels of oil,
giving a break-even price per barrel of oil of $330 (based on an 8 percent
capital charge). Increasing the scale of the system to 1,000 acres reduced the
break-even price to about $240 per barrel.


These prices considered wastewater treatment credits, which
reduced costs about 20 percent. Other facilities that maximized wastewater
treatment produced fuel at lower cost due to greater treatment revenue.
However, the availability of wastewater would greatly limit the national scale
of this lower-cost fuel production.



Other co-products, specifically animal feeds, could help offset
costs, but these products

are of relatively low value or have very limited markets. ?Wastewater
treatment is the

only realistic co-product for (algal) biofuels production,? the
report states. ?Only through

intensive, continuous, large-scale research with outdoor ponds can
we hope to progress in a reasonable time frame.?



?It is clear,? the EBI scientists conclude, ?that algal oil
production will be neither quick

nor plentiful ? 10 years is a reasonable projection for the R, D
& D (research,

development and demonstration) to allow a conclusion about the
ability to achieve, at

least for specific locations, relatively low-cost algal biomass
and oil production.?


The Report, ?A
Realistic Technology and Engineering Assessment of Algae Biofuel

Production,?  can be read on the Energy Biosciences
Institute web site

(www.energybiosciencesinstitute.org) by accessing ?Publications?
in the Resources

drop-down menu).



Energy Biosciences
Institute News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, November 2,
2010 Contacts:

Nigel Quinn Ron Kolb,
Communications Manager

NWQuinn@lbl.gov Energy Biosciences

RRKolb@berkeley.edu, 510-643-6255


Wed November 03 2010 03:43:24 PM by Richard 1 EBI Report  |  University of California at Berkeley  |  Nigel Quinn  |  Tryg Lundquist

Bioplastics are not as green as they were thought to be !

A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh reached the conclusion that bioplastics are not as green as they were thought to be, but rather carry the guilt of pollution from the soil (through their biodegradability) to the atmosphere. They published their findings in a report in Environmental Science and Technology.

Indeed, bioplastics (or biopolymers) are biodegradable, but the problem lies somewhere else. They?re made from corn, starch and other renewable resources, but the fertilizers, pesticides and the chemical processing needed to take them from dust to final product bring more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than making them from petroleum.

In order to reach this conclusion, the team analyzed seven petroleum-based polymers, four biopolymers and one hybrid, performing a life-cycle assessment on each of them. After that, they checked each of the plastics in its finished form against principles of green design, including biodegradability, energy efficiency, wastefulness, and toxicity.

The two tested forms of sugar-derived polymer ? standard polylactic acid (PLA-G) and the type manufactured by Minnesota-based NatureWorks (PLA-NW), the most common sugar-based plastic in the United States ? exhibited the maximum contribution to eutrophication, which occurs when overfertilized bodies of water can no longer support life. One type of the corn-based polyhydroyalkanoate, PHA-G, topped the acidification category. In addition, biopolymers exceeded most of the petroleum-based polymers for ecotoxicity and carcinogen emissions.

Combining the two types of polymers in the hybrid one sums all the pollution of biopolymers and the petroleum-based ones. The so-called B-PET is the most harmful to produce and use.

I guess the same can also be applied to biofuels, but the solution doesn?t necessarily rely on halting all of the biopolymer production, but rather discovering methods of more efficient and green farming, without the use of harmful fertilizers and chemicals.

It?s the same as with the Prius, for example. Its lithium ion batteries pollute on another level than burning gasoline does. Solving this issue doesn?t necessarily mean that we shouldn?t use batteries anymore, but it?s imperative that we find a better energy storage.
Tue October 26 2010 01:39:29 AM by Richard 4 bioplastics  |  biodegradability  |  university of Pittsburgh

Hybrid algae, seawater, CO2 and advanced tech

Algenol Biofuels executives have spent decades developing commercial methods for producing ethanol.

Now, thanks in part to a $10 million investment from Lee County, the Fort Myers-based firm will be able to conduct more research in a new 40,000-square foot facility. The plant is scheduled to open Oct. 19.

Algenol produces ethanol directly from carbon dioxide and seawater using hybrid algae, sunlight, and a healthy dose of advanced technology. The company has been refining its methods since it was founded in 2006.
Algenol opens a new R & D plant !!

In 2008, the Business Review reported on a $70 million investment made by Algenol?s partners into their own business.

The company will celebrate the grand opening of its new facility at 16121 Lee Road tomorrow at noon.

Tue October 19 2010 07:30:34 AM by Richard 8 Algenol  |  Paul woods  |  CEO Paul woods

Oil Extraction from Scenedesmus obliquus

Oil Extraction from Scenedesmus obliquus Using a Continuous Microwave System ? Design, Optimization and Quality Characterization

Sundar Balasubramaniana, James D. Allena, Akanksha Kanitkara and Dorin Boldor,

a Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Received 26 July 2010;  revised 28 September 2010;  accepted 30 September 2010.  Available online 8 October 2010.


A 1.2 kW, 2450 MHz resonant continuous microwave processing system was designed and optimized for oil extraction from green algae (Scenedesmus obliquus). Algae-water suspension (1:1 w/w) was heated to 80 and 95?C and subjected to extraction for up to 30 min.


Maximum oil yield was achieved at 95?C and 30 min. The microwave system extracted 76-77% of total recoverable oil at 20-30 min and 95?C, compared to only 43-47% for water bath control. Extraction time and temperature had significant influence (p<0.0001) on extraction yield. Oil analysis indicated that microwaves extracted oil containing higher percentages of unsaturated and essential fatty acids (indicating higher quality).


This study validates for the first time the efficiency of a continuous microwave system for extraction of lipids from algae. Higher oil yields, faster extraction rates and superior oil quality demonstrate this system?s feasibility for oil extraction from a variety of feedstock.

Mon October 18 2010 07:18:55 AM by Richard 25 Scenedesmus obliquus  |  oil extraction