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

Attempts to Manipulate Microalgal Lipid Composition via Genetic Engineering

The overall goal of the studies on the biochemistry and molecular biology of lipid synthesis in microalgae was to increase the understanding of the lipid biosynthetic pathways and to identify enzymes that influence the rate of lipid accumulation and lipid quality. This information would be used to genetically manipulate the biosynthetic pathways for improvement in lipid production rates and to […]

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Competition Studies with Continuous and Semicontinuous Cultures

A key underlying assumption in this work was that monoculture productivity is an indicator of competitiveness in mixed cultures. That is, the most productive culture will also be the most competitive. Another assumption is that productivity and competitiveness will be affected by fluctuations in environmental variables and cannot be predicted from single parameter variations or steady-state operations. Testing these hypotheses […]

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The ASP Microalgal Mass Culture

III. B.1. Introduction The long-term objective of the ASP was to develop microalgae liquid fuel production processes. Since its inception, the ASP supported laboratory R&D projects (Section II) and algal mass culture projects. However, for the most part, the laboratory and outdoor projects were not integrated into a strongly unified program. This reflects in large part the difficulty of such […]

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Microalgae as a Source of Liquid Fuels

After the ASP was established at SERI in the late 1970s, the emphasis switched from methane production to algal oils as the fuel product. This was based on the known ability of some microalgae species to accumulate large amounts of algal lipids, in particular under conditions of nutrient (mainly N and Si) limitations (See Section II and Section III. B.5.d.).

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Continuing California HRP Pond Operations, 1983-1984

This project was a continuation of the project described in III. B.3.b. It was performed by a new company, Microbial Products, Inc. (EnBio was dissolved when John Benemann left in 1983 for the Georgia Institute of T echnology). The pond system described earlier continued to be used for this project. The objective was to obtain long-term productivity data with a […]

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Higher Value Byproducts and Coproducts

The problem with integrating microalgae biodiesel production with any high value coproducts or byproducts, such as pigments, vitamins, or specialty chemicals, is that these would be produced in very large amounts, saturating any likely markets. And, of course, the requirements for producing such high value products are quite different from the needs for biomass fuels. One example for coproducts comes […]

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The Effect of Different Promoters on Expression of Luciferase in Cyclotella

Little is known about the regulation of gene expression in diatoms, partly because genetic transformation was not possible in this group of algae before NREL’s transformation system was developed. The availability of this transformation system now allows the study of the roles of regulatory DNA sequences in gene expression. As a first step toward a better understanding of gene transcription […]

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Resource Analyses

III. C.1. Introduction One major concern of the ASP, as for any renewable energy option being developed by DOE, is the resource potential for the technology. How large an impact will it have on future U. S. energy supplies, or, in today’s units, fossil CO2 or equivalent greenhouse gas reduction potential? This is required both by the mission of the […]

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The ARPS Project in Hawaii, 1980-1987

III. B.2.a. Hawaii ARPS Project Initiation, 1980-1981 As mentioned earlier, the concept for the ARPS project derived from the Raymond (1981) patent. The project was initiated in early 1980s, with construction of a single, 48-m2 raceway system completed in early 1981 (Laws 1981). During this first year, chemostat experiments using two strains of P. tricornutum were carried out. The tests […]

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Fuels from Microalgae Technology Status, Potential and Research Requirements

In 1986, a report was generated by SERI ASP in-house researchers that analyzed factors and costs involved in microalgae biomass production systems (Neenan et al. 1986). The report reviewed the various system components and requirements for algal biomass production, and summarized and extended the available resource analyses for water, land, and most importantly, CO2 required for large-scale microalgal biomass production. […]

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