Category Archives: A Look Back at the U. S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program: Biodiesel from Algae

Microalgae harvesting by bioflocculation: Small and large pond results

Comparison of performance between two 1,000-m2 and two 12-m2 ponds, operated under otherwise similar conditions except that one pond was screened to remove zooplankton and the other one was not so treated. Data averaged for July 1978. Note agreement in terms of productivity (grams VSS/m2/d, essentially some 90% AFDW algal biomass). (Source: Benemann et al. 1979.)

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Cost Analysis of Microalgae Biomass Systems

This report (Benemann et al. 1978) originated with a Request for Proposals (RFP) by ERDA for a “Cost Analysis of Algal Biomass Systems” which included both micro — and macroalgae. The contract was awarded to the Dyantech R/D Co., who subcontracted for the analysis of the microalgal work with CSO International, Inc. Although the RFP specified a minimum scale for […]

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High Rate Pond (HRP) Operations in California, 1981-1986

III. B.3.a. HRP Design and Construction Phase, 1981 The project described in this section succeeded the projects reviewed in Section III. A. that took place at the University of California-Berkeley. That research group moved essentially intact (as Ecoenergetics, Inc., later renamed EnBio, Inc.) to Fairfield, California, some 30 miles north of Berkeley, with a pond system set up in nearby […]

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Microalgal Strains for Mass Culture: Source and Genetic Improvements

The immediate issue arises of how to isolate, select, improve, and maintain the algal strains required for large-scale, low-cost microalgae cultivation. The ASP spent considerable effort in this area, with the isolation, screening, maintenance, laboratory studies, outdoor cultivation, and genetic improvement of microalgal strains (see Section II). In general, laboratory results were not predictive of outdoor performance. In addition, the […]

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Lipid Productivity of Microalgae

The most fundamental assumption in microalgae biomass production for biodiesel fuels is that it will be possible to achieve near theoretical solar conversion efficiencies by overcoming the light saturation effect (see Section IV. A.2.c. for a brief discussion). The second most fundamental assumption is that it will be possible to achieve such very high productivities with microalgae cultures high in […]

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Other Microalgae Projects During the ERDA/DOE Period

During the 1975-1979 period, several other proj ects on microalgae fuels production were funded by ERDA/DOE, including the biophotolysis projects using heterocystous cyanobacteria, discussed earlier (see review by Benemann et al. 1980). Another biophotolysis project tested an optical fiber system for diffusing solar light into algal cultures, thereby overcoming the light saturation limitation to photosynthetic efficiencies (Manley 1979). This was […]

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Cost Analysis of Aquatic Biomass Systems

In 1978, Dynatech R/D Company prepared a report that analyzed the feasibility of using both macro — and microalgae systems, as well as other aquatic plants, for fuel production (Dynatech R/D Company 1978a). A major emphasis of this report was seaweed systems (“Ocean Farms”), as these were a major focus of the ERDA/DOE Fuels from Biomass Program at the time. […]

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HRP Operations in California, Oct-Nov. 1982

After this project was restarted, construction was completed and the first inoculation of algae into one of the 100-m2 ponds was made on August 13, 1982, using a mixed Micractinium- Scenedesmus culture obtained from the Richmond wastewater ponds (Section III. A.). However, these algae settled out due to lack of flow deflectors, and the culture was soon dominated by a […]

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Microalgal Mass Culture

IV. B.1. Conclusions IV. B. I.a. Cost and Productivity Goals The overall conclusion from this review of 2 decades of DOE and ASP R&D in microalgal mass culture for biodiesel and other renewable fuels, is that this technology still requires relatively long-term R&D for practical realization. The initial, rather optimistic, cost and performance projections have not been met, or when […]

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