Tag Archives: Spirulina Algae

CCRES Algal Production Facility

CCRES First Pilot-scale Algal Production Facility
Nears Completion

An algal production facility located at the CCRES Research Farm will be operational by June. This is the first facility at Croatia that can produce large amounts of algal biomass.

The facility is a 800 square-foot greenhouse that will accommodate two raceway pond systems, four large flat panel photobioreactors and one custom-made revolving attachment-based photobioreactor. The total production capacity will be 100-200 dried kilograms of algae biomass per year.

CCRES Researchers will use the various production systems to quickly grow algal biomass for various research purposes including the production of renewable fuels, food or animal feed. “This greenhouse algal production system will be a test bed for different researchers to try out their algal production capability at a large scale,” said Zeljko Serdar, President of CCRES ALGAE TEAM.

“The raceway pond systems are each 20 feet in length and both systems can hold approximately 1,000 liters of algae culture medium. Raceway pond systems are the most common method for large-scale algae cultivation. At first glance, the four flat panel photobioreactors appear to be large tanks,” said Ilam Shuhani, Chairman of the CCRES Supervisory Board and professor-in-charge of the greenhouse.

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Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)
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Nutrient data for Spirulina

Nutrient data for Spirulina

CCRES Spirulina, raw

Nutrient Unit Value per 100.0g
Water g 90.67
Energy kcal 26
Protein g 5.92
Total lipid (fat) g 0.39
Carbohydrate, by difference g 2.42
Fiber, total dietary g 0.4
Sugars, total g 0.30
Calcium, Ca mg 12
Iron, Fe mg 2.79
Magnesium, Mg mg 19
Phosphorus, P mg 11
Potassium, K mg 127
Sodium, Na mg 98
Zinc, Zn mg 0.20
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 0.9
Thiamin mg 0.222
Riboflavin mg 0.342
Niacin mg 1.196
Vitamin B-6 mg 0.034
Folate, DFE µg 9
Vitamin B-12 µg 0.00
Vitamin A, RAE µg 3
Vitamin A, IU IU 56
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) mg 0.49
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) µg 0.0
Vitamin D IU 0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) µg 2.5
Fatty acids, total saturated g 0.135
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 0.034
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 0.106

CCRES Spirulina, dried

Nutrient Unit Value per 100.0g cup
Water g 4.68 5.24 0.33
Energy kcal 290 325 20
Protein g 57.47 64.37 4.02
Total lipid (fat) g 7.72 8.65 0.54
Carbohydrate, by difference g 23.90 26.77 1.67
Fiber, total dietary g 3.6 4.0 0.3
Sugars, total g 3.10 3.47 0.22
Calcium, Ca mg 120 134 8
Iron, Fe mg 28.50 31.92 2.00
Magnesium, Mg mg 195 218 14
Phosphorus, P mg 118 132 8
Potassium, K mg 1363 1527 95
Sodium, Na mg 1048 1174 73
Zinc, Zn mg 2.00 2.24 0.14
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 10.1 11.3 0.7
Thiamin mg 2.380 2.666 0.167
Riboflavin mg 3.670 4.110 0.257
Niacin mg 12.820 14.358 0.897
Vitamin B-6 mg 0.364 0.408 0.025
Folate, DFE µg 94 105 7
Vitamin B-12 µg 0.00 0.00 0.00
Vitamin A, RAE µg 29 32 2
Vitamin A, IU IU 570 638 40
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) mg 5.00 5.60 0.35
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) µg 0.0 0.0 0.0
Vitamin D IU 0 0 0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) µg 25.5 28.6 1.8
Fatty acids, total saturated g 2.650 2.968 0.186
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 0.675 0.756 0.047
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 2.080 2.330 0.146
Cholesterol mg 0 0 0

CCRES special thanks to US National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

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Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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With oil prices reaching $105 a barrel for the first time since 2008, the biofuel industry is looking more attractive every day. As global demand rises and petroleum supplies diminish, countries are turning to algae for energy security.
 In smaller countries, like Croatia, where oil demand is low, and emission standards are poor, algae biofuel has the potential to significantly reduce reliance on foreign oil.
works on
Biodiesel from MicroalgaeThe oil from the algae can be used for any combustion process. An even wider range of use for algae oil is obtained by the transesterification to biodiesel. This biodiesel can be blended with fossil diesel or can be directly driven as pure biodiesel B100.

Biodiesel from microalgae has a comparable quality as rapeseed methyl ester and meets the standard EN 14214. At biodiesel production about 12% glycerin is produced as a by-product. This glycerin is a valuable resource for the production of algae in closed ponds, the heterotrophic processes. Thus, the entire algae oil can be used as fuel.

Fish FoodAlgae provide a natural solution for the expanding fishing industry:

High-protein fish food
Replacement for existing fish meal production
Algae have nutrients of many young fishes available

The fishing industry recorded an annual growth of over 10% and, according to experts, will beat the global beef consumption in 2015.

The Technology developed by CCRES offers the opportunity to deliver part of the needed proteins for fish farming on the resulting algal biomass.

Protein for the food industryThe demand for high-quality protein for the food industry has been growing rapidly over the years.

The big growth opportunities are:

Weight control
Fitness and Sports Nutrition
Food supplements

The market volume in the protein sector is continously growing and at the rate of US $ 10.5B in 2010 and according to experts, will steadily increase to approx. $25B until 2030.

“There is intense interest in algal biofuels and bioproducts in this country and abroad, including in US,Australia, Chile, China, the European Union, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and others,” says Branka Kalle, President of Council Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES).
Advantages algae has over other sources may make it the world’s favored biofuel. Algae could potentially produce over 20 times more oil per acre than other terrestrial crops.Algae avoids many of the environmental challenges associated with conventional biofuels.Algae does not require arable land or potable water, which completely avoids competition with food resources.
 “The Asia Pacific region has been culturing algae for food and pharmaceuticals for many centuries, and these countries are eager to use this knowledge base for the production of biofuels,”says Zeljko Serdar, President of CCRES.Without sustained high prices at the pump, investment in algae will likely be driven by demand for other products. In the short term, the growth of the industry will come from governments and companies seeking to reduce their environmental impact through carbon collection.

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Biodiesel Experts in EU

Growing global demand for energy to power economic development and growth demands the development of cost-effective technologies for a more sustainable energy economy for Europe (and world-wide) to ensure that European industry can compete successfully on the global stage.
Energy is a vital part of our daily lives in Europe and has been for centuries. But the days of secure, cheap energy are over. We are already facing the consequences of climate change, increasing import dependence and higher energy prices.
Consequently, the EU has been developing its climate and energy policy as an integrated approach that pursues the three key objectives of:
  • security of supply: to better coordinate the EU’s supply of and demand for energy within an international context;
  • competitiveness: to ensure the competitiveness of European economies and the availability of affordable energy;
  • sustainability: to combat climate change by promoting renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
Click to enlarge EU primary energy requirements by fuel Source: European Energy and Transport, Trends to 2030 
Click to enlarge Import dependency of the EU (in %) Source: European Energy and Transport, Trends to 2030 
These objectives have been translated into binding targets. By 2020, the EU has committed itself to:
  • reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% (or even 30% in case an international agreement is reached that commits other countries in a similar way);
  • increasing the share of renewable energies to 20% of total EU energy consumption;
  • increasing the share of renewable energies in transport to 10%;
  • improving energy efficiency by 20%.
Achieving these goals will require major breakthroughs in the research and development of new technologies. The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) – the technology pillar of the European energy and climate policy – outlines long-term energy research priorities for the horizon of 2020 to 2050. It lays the foundations for a European policy for energy technology and establishes a framework that brings together the diverse activities in the field of energy research. For more information please visit the SET-Plan section of this website.

Biodiesel Experts in EU

NOVAOL AUSTRIA GmbH Industriegelande West 3
A-2460 Bruck/Leitha

OLEON Assenedestraat 2
9940 Ertvelde
Bioro Moervaartkaai 1
B-9042 Gent
NEOCHIM Parc Industriel, zone A
7181 Feluy
Proviron Fine Chemicals nv G.Gilliotstraat 60 – zone 2
B-2620 Hemiksem
FEDIOL 168, avenue de Tervuren
(bte 12) – 1st floor
B – 1150 – Bruxelles

Rapid Oil Industry Co. Ltd. 81A, Nikola Gabrovski st.
5000 Veliko Tarnovo

Agropodnik Dobronin 315
588 13 Polna
PREOL a.s. Lovosice,
Terezinska 47
PSC 41017

Ambrosia Oils (1976) LTD Larnaka Industrial Estate,
P.O.Box 40433, 6304 Larnaka

Daka Biodiesel Bragesvej 18
DK 4100 Ringsted

Neste Renewable Fuels Oy P.O. Box 726

75008 Paris
INEOS Enterprises France SAS Z.I. Baleycourt – BP 10095
F – 55103 VERDUN Cedex
SCA Pétrole et Dérivés 7, Allée des Mousquetaires
Parc de Tréville
91078 Bondoufle Cedex
France Ester
France Ester Route d’Alençon
61400 Saint Langis les Mortagne
Nord Ester Rue Van Cauwenberghe
Zone Industrielle de Petite-Synthe
59640 Dunkerque
Veolia / SARP Industries SARP Industries
427, route du Hazay
F-78520 Limay
Centre Ouest Céreales B.P. 10036
86131 Jaunay-clan Cedex

Nippoldstrasse. 117
D-21107 Hamburg
GmbH & Co. KG
Saegemuehlenstrasse. 45
D-26789 Leer (Ostfriesland)
ADM Soya Mainz GmbH Dammweg 2
55130 Mainz
Ruedeckenstrasse 51 / Am Hafen
D-38239 Salzgitter-Beddingen
VERBIO Diesel Bitterfeld GmbH & Co. KG
Areal B Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen, OT Greppin, Stickstoffstrasse
D-6749 Bitterfeld-Wolfen
Industrie Strasse 34
41460 Neuss
Fürst-von-Salm-Straße 18
46313 Borken-Burlo
BIOPETROL Industries AG Baarerstrasse 53/55,
CH-6304 Zug
EcoMotion GmbH Brunnenstr. 138
D-44536 Lünen
Mannheim Bio Fuel GmbH Inselstrasse 10
D-68169 Mannheim
Vesta Biofuels Brunsbüttel GmbH
Fahrstrasse 51
D-25541 Brunsbuttel
Rheinische Bio Ester GmbH & Co. KG Duisburger Strasse 15/19
41460 Neuss
Am Weidendamm 1a
D-10117 Berlin

33 Pigon Str., 145 64 Kifissia
AGROINVEST S.A. 9th km Thessaloniki-Thermi
Thermi II Building
57001 Thessaloniki
GF Energy 56 Kifisias Av. & Delfon st.,
6th floor, 151 25 Marousi,

Öko-line Hungary Kft. Városligeti fasor 47-49
H-1071 Budapest

Green Biofuels Ireland Ltd Wexford Farmers Co-op
Blackstoops, Enniscorthy Co. Wexford

ECO FOX S.r.L. Via Senigallia 29
I=61100 Pesaro
NOVAOL ITALY Via G: Spqdolini 5
20141 Milano
ITAL BI OIL S.r.l. Ital Bi Oil S.r.l.
Via Baione 222 – 224
70043 – Monopoli (BA)
OIL. B srl OIL.B srl
Via Sabotino, 2
24121 Bergamo
OXEM Strada Provinciale Km 2,6 – 27030
Mezzana Bigli (Pv)
Mythen Via Lanzone ,31
20123 MILANO
PFP S.p.A Via Scaglia Est 134
41126 Modena
Unione Produttori Biodiesel
Via di Vigna Murata 40
00143 Roma

BioVenta 66 Dzintaru
Ventspils, LV-3600

Biovalue Holding BV Westlob 6
NL-9979XG Eemshaven

Croatian Center of RES Medarska 24
10000 Zagreb

IBEROL NUTASA Av. Frei Miguel Contreiras, 54A – 3º
1700-213 Lisboa
Torrejana Casal da Amendoeira
Apartado 2
2354-908 Riachos
Sovena Oil Seeds Portugal R. General Ferreira Martins 6, 8º
1495-137 Algés

Prio Strada Stelea Spatarul
nr 12, Sector 3, Bucuresti
Expur 45 Tudor Vladimirescu Bvd. District 5
050881 Bucharest
Procera Biofuels Muncii street, No.11 Fundulea city
Calarasi County, 915200

BIONET EUROPA Poligon Agro-Reus
Adria Gual 4
43206 Reus
ACCIONA Biocombustibles, S.A Av. Ciudad de la Innovación, 5
31621 Sarriguren (Navarra)
Biocombustiblies Ctra. de Valencia Km. 202
Pol. Sepes – Parcelas 145-146
16004 Cuenca
Green Fuel Avda. San Francisco Javier, 24, Ed. Sevilla I
41018 Sevilla
Stocks del Valles
Stocks Del Valles SA Pol. Ind. El Pedregar
C/. Progres, 19-21
E-08160 Montmelo Barcelona
Bio-Oils Energy, S.L. C/ Almagro 2, 4º Dcha.
28010 Madrid
BioArag Ctra A- 1240, Km 0,900 – 22540
Altorricon (Huesca)
BioNorte S.A. Poligono de la Florida 71
33958 San Martin Del Rey Aurelio
APPA Muntaner 269
08021 Barcelona

Ecobränsle i Karlshamn AB Västra Kajen 8B
SE-374 31 Karlshamn
Norups Biorefinery AB Box 109
289 21 Knislinge
Perstorp Prastgatan 12
SE-252 24 Helsingborg

Argent Energy 5th Floor, 9 Hatton Street
London NW8 8PL
Harvest Energy 2 Cavendish Square
London, W1G 0PU
Agri Energy Northampton Road, Blisworth
Northampton, NN7 3DR

Expert Groups 

alt Prof Thierry CHOPIN University of New Brunswick Canada
alt Dr Alan CRITCHLEY Acadian Seaplants Ltd Canada
alt Dr Amir NEORI
Israel Oceanographic & Limnological
Research Ltd
(Chief executive Ireland)
Alternative energy Resources Limited LTD
(biofuels production and supply company)
Prof Klaus LUNING Sylt Algae Farm Germany
altalt Prof Masahiro NOTOYA Tokyo University Marine Science and
Technology International Seaweed Association
alt Dr Paolo GUALTIERI CNR- Istituto di Biofisica di Pisa Italy
alt Ms Simonetta ZARRILLI United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD)
alt Ms Sofia SEQUEIRA Galp Portugal
alt Mr Jeff TSCHIRLEY UN Food and Agricoltural Organisation
alt Mr Michael. B. LAKEMAN
Mr Andrew BRAFF
Algal Biomass Organisation USA
alt Mr Frédéric MONOT Institute Français du Petrol, Biotechnology
and Biomass Chemistry
alt Mr. Guido DEJONGH CEN – European Committee for Standardisation
(New Standardization Opportunities)


Prof. Spiros AGATHOS Louvain University
Ms. Maria BARBOSA WURFood & BioBased
The Netherlands
Dr. Kateřina BIŠOVÁ Czech Institute of Microbiology
Czech Republic
Mr. Jonas DAHL Danish Technological Institute
Dr. Maeve EDWARDS Irish Seaweed Centre
Mr. Cameron EDWARDS VESTA Biofuels Brunsbüttel
Prof. Jose FERNANDEZ SEVILLA University of Almeria
Dr. Imogen FOUBERT K.U.Leuven University
Dr. Sridharan GOVINDACHARY Queen’s University
Prof. Patricia J. HARVEY University of Greenwich
Mr. Sven JACOBS Howest
Mr. Remy MARCHAL Institut Français du Pétrole
Mr. Riccardo MARCHETTI Oxem S.p.a
Dr. Laura MARTINELLI Studio Martinelli
Ms. Roberta MODOLO Studio Martinelli
Mr. Benoit QUEGUINEUR Irish Seaweed Centre
Ms. Jessica RATCLIFF Irish Seaweed Centre
Mr. Jean-François ROUS Diester Industrie
Mr. Philippe SCHILD European Commission (DR Research)
Mr. Johannes SKARKA Karlsruher Institute of Technology
Ms. Andrea SONNLEITNER Bioenergy 2020
Prof. Laurenz THOMSEN Jacobs University Bremen
Dr. Wolfgang TRUNK European Commission (DG Health)
Mr. Dries VANDAMME K.U.Leuven University
Mr. Peter VAN DEN DORPEL AlgaeLink N.V.
The Netherlands
Dr. Koen VANHOUTTE Navicula
Mr. Ignacio VASQUEZ- L European Commission (DG Climate)
Dr. Milada VITOVÁ Czech Institute of Microbiology
Czech Republic
Dr. Wim VYVERMAN Ghent University
Ms. Annika WEISS KIT
Mr. Zeljko Serdar Croatian Center of RES

Prof. Gabriel ACIEN FERNANDEZ Almeria University
Dr. Dina BACOVSKY Bioenergy 2020+ GmbH
Dr. Natascia BIONDI University of Florence
Prof. Sammy BOUSSIBA Ben‐Gurion University
Mr. Marco BROCKEN Evodos The Netherlands
Ms. Griet CASTELEYN Ghent University Belgium
Mr. Nuno COELHO AlgaFuel Portugal
Dr. Guillermo GARCIA-B.REINA University of Las Palmas Gan Canaria Spain
Mr. Guido DE JONGH CEN Belgium
Mr. Alessandro FLAMMINI FAO Aquatic Biofuels Italy
Mr. Clayton JEFFRYES Louvain University Belgium
Dr. Bert LEMMENS VITO Belgium
Dr. Stefan LEU Ben‐Gurion University Israel
Mr. Philippe MORAND CNRS France
Mr. Josche MUTH EREC Belgium
Ms. Liliana RODOLFI Fotosintetica & Microbiologica S.r.l Italy
Dr. Robin SHIELDS Swansea University UK
Dr. Raphael SLADE Imperial College London UK
Mr. Mario R. TREDICI University of Florence Italy
Ms. Sofie VAN DEN HENDE Ghent University Belgium
Mr. Ron VAN ERCK European Commission(DG Energy) Belgium
Prof. Rene WIJFFELS Wageningen Universiteit The Netherlands
Mr. Philippe WILLEMS Orineo BVBA Belgium
Dr. Attila WOOTSCH MFKK Hungary Hungary
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Algae, the Source of Biofuels, and Aquaponics
Algae can be used as important types of biomass materials from which the biofuels can be obtained. Algae absorb the energy from the sun in the presence of carbon dioxide and store it. A number of processes can be carried out on algae to convert it into biofuels like alcohol, biodiesel and even biogas. The biodiesel obtained from algae can be mixed with petroleum diesel and it can be used for running of trucks, cars and many types of engines that use diesel. Biodiesel can also be used as the fuel in the jets, airplanes, refineries and pipelines. The biomass obtained from algae can be used as the renewable sources of energy since it is available in abundant quantities and will be available for unlimited period of time.
One of the important advantages of algae is that it can grow in any type of water like salt, fresh, and even contaminated water. It can be grown in vast sea and river water, small rain water ponds and even commercial or domestic manmade made ponds. Algae has the potential to yield 30 times more energy than the crops grown on land, which are currently being used to produce the biofuels. This could encourage the use of algae for producing biofuels instead of the land that can be used for producing food crops. The harvesting cycle of algae is 1 to 10 days, which permits several harvests in short period of time and using the resources more effectively.

Algae and Aquaponics
As described earlier, algae can be grown in any type of water and in type of water storage system. Besides the naturally occurring seas, rivers, and ponds, it can also grow in manmade ponds. The manmade ponds can be at homes for domestic purpose or in large lands made for commercial production of algae. For the better growth of algae some nutrients may be added to water. Besides using these ponds for algae growth they can also be used for the growth of fishes and other aquatic animals.
Aquaponics is the system where one can grow the fishes and plants like algae in one integrated system. The waste given by the fishes act as important nutrients for the plants, while the cover of plants provides the natural filter for the fishes in the living areas. Aquaponics is the combination of words aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the cultivation of fish or other water based animals, while hydroponics is the growth of plants in water. In aquaponics one can grow the water animals as well the plants at the same time. Thus the manmade small or big pond can be effectively used for growing fishes as well plants like algae.
The plants usually prefer warm-water so the water in aquaponics is also warm. The fishes grown in aquaponics are of warm-water type and not of cold-water type. The fishes grown in aquaponics can be consumed by the owner, they can be given to the friend, can be sold in the market to earn money or they can be kept as the pets. The harvesting period of fishes ranges from 7 to 9 months. When aquaponics is combined with a controlled environment greenhouse, high quality crops can be grown throughout the year and in any part of the world.
Aquaponics comprises of the water tank where the fishes are raised and fed. There is a chamber, where the uneaten foods and other particles and solids are collected. The bio-filter converts ammonia into nitrates, which act as the nutrients for the plants. There is also a portion for the growth of the plants. The lowest part of tank is a sump from where fresh water is supplied to the tank and old water is removed.
The concept of aquaponics can be extended for the growth of algae. Instead of the plants, one can grow algae, which has the harvest cycle of one to ten days. At the same time the fishes can also be grown. In the period of about nine months, while the fishes will harvest once, algae will be harvested several times. The large quantities of algae collected this way can be used as the biomass for producing the biofuels like biodiesel.
The advantages of using aquaponics for the growth of algae is that in a single place harvesting of both, the algae as well as fishes can be done. This would increase the profitability for the owner if they already have aquaculture or hydroponics. While earlier they would get only a single product from the infrastructure, they could now get two products. Since harvesting time of algae is short, it would keep the owner busy and this could become a continuous source of income for them.
The major limitations of aquaponics are the high initial costs required for housing, tank, plumbing, pumps and bedding. One should also do thorough research for the chances of success of such project. The system also has number of points of failure and requires intensive maintenance.
special thanks to   
Escapeartist, Inc
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The CCRES Algae Production Module


The CCRES Algae Production Module will begin with an overview of photosynthesis and the carbon cycle, the taxonomy of algae and the basics of cell biology.
Safety in the lab, OSHA compliance and the process of experimental methodology are also included in the curriculum. Students will learn about algae growth factors such as temperature, light, CO2and nutrients.
 The different kinds of photobioreactor designs will be explored, including closed vs. open systems.  Students will learn about the importance of cultivation protocols, and when to feed, harvest and how to process the algae.
 Analytics will be covered as well which includes the use of the microscope and learning about the basic algae handling and testing procedures such as dilution, cell counting and dry weight measurment.
The various uses of algae will be examined such as its role in the nutraceutical, food, cosmetic and animal feed industries and as a replacement for petroleum as a transportation fuel.
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Biomass-Based Fuel Supplements

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $15 million available to demonstrate biomass-based oil supplements that can be blended with petroleum, helping the United States to reduce foreign oil use, diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, and create jobs for American workers.
Known as “bio-oils,” these precursors for fully renewable transportation fuels could be integrated into the oil refining processes that make conventional gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels without requiring modifications to existing fuel distribution networks or engines.
The Department expects to fully fund between five to ten projects in fiscal year 2012 to produce bio-oil prototypes that can be tested in oil refineries and used to develop comprehensive technical and economic analyses of how bio-oils could work. The proto-type bio-oils will be produced from a range of feedstocks that could include algae, corn and wheat stovers, dedicated energy crops or wood residues.
 Domestic industry, universities, and laboratories are all eligible to apply.
The results of the projects will inform future efforts directed at advancing bio-oil technologies and bringing these renewable fuels to market. A description of the funding opportunity, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the Funding Opportunity Exchange website under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000686.
The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about EERE’s work with industry, academia, and National Laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies.
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  • Algae represent the third generation feedstock for biodiesel, with much higher yields than second generation crops. Algae yields could reach a high of 50 T of biodiesel per hectare year against 2 T for competing feedstock such as Jatropha.
  • While biodiesel is the fuel end product that is pursued most, algae can be processed to yield other energy products such as ethanol, diesel, gasoline, aviation fuel, hydrogen and other hydrocarbons. Some companies have started exploring production of these products as well.
  • Upstream processes such as strain selection, cultivation and harvesting present challenges that are unique to the algae industry and hence deserve closer attention.
  • Microalgae, owing to their relatively high oil content can be a feedstock for biodiesel while macroalgae is a potential feedstock for ethanol.
  • From over 30,000 strains of algae available, selecting the most suitable strain needs evaluation of parameters such as desired end products, oil/energy yields, performance in mass culture, complexity of structure, culturing media/environment and more.
  • In harsh environments such as deserts, photobioreactors might be the most suitable method to grow algae, owing to the control they offer on the external elements.
  • Costs of setting up and operating a photobioreactor for algae cultivation would be much higher than open ponds, but photobioreactors provide higher efficiency and oil yields. While open ponds costs about $100,000 per hectare in capital costs, photobioreactors cost about $1-$1.5 million per hectare – ten times as much as open pond! On the other hand, photobioreactors provide much higher control for algal monocultures and provide yields that are 3-5X those for open ponds.
  • Currently, photobioreactor costs range between $70-150/m2. Some of the most important research efforts currently being undertaken are for reducing the capital and operational costs for photobioreactors.
  • Ensuring high yield, providing optimal light penetration and cost effective aeration are some of the key challenges in microalgae cultivation.
  • In order to benefit from the advantages of photobioreactors and open ponds, some companies are exploring a hybrid cultivation system that uses both open ponds and PBRs.
  • Key challenges for cultivating microalgae in wastewater include the availability of large amounts of wastewater, prevention of contamination of desired strains, and cost-effective harvesting.
  • Photobioreactors might be the most suitable system to grow algae in deserts, owing to control they offer on the harsh environment present in the region.
  • Algae are already being cultivated in oceans for non-fuel end products such as cosmetics, medicines and food additives.
  • Using freshwater for algae cultivation is likely to be more expensive than using wastewater or salt water, as large quantities of freshwater might not so easily accessible, and nutrient credits might not be applicable for cultivation in fresh water.
  • While algae-based CO2 capture at power plants has excellent innate potential, such an activity is not expected to become commercialized until 2015.
  • Key challenges to this include large land requirements next to power plants, inefficiencies in the actual CO2 capture process and high costs of cultivation should photobioreactors be used.
  • Oilgae estimates that the current production costs for algae based biodiesel is about $18 per gallon if photobioreactors were used.
  • Companies that have come up with unique concepts for algae biofuels include Algenol, AlgoDyne, Blue Marble Energy, Inventure, Sapphire Energy and Solazyme.
  • As of Mar 2010, there are about 100 companies worldwide that have a focus on algae fuels.
  • While there are no dominant designs in the industry, there are entry barriers in the form of large financing requirements and the need for high end scientific expertise.
  • There could be some challenges faced while converting algae oil into biodiesel using the transesterification process, owing to the high Free Fatty Acid (FFA) content of algae oil.
  • Prominent methods currently used for harvesting microalgae are filtration, centrifugation, and flocculation.
    • Centrifugation and flocculation are expensive harvesting methods, but these are expected to have the most potential in future for harvesting microalgae.
    • The operational cost of centrifugation for algae harvesting varies from $100 to $500 per ton of algae biomass.
  • Companies are trying to overcome the challenges faced by the open pond system such as contamination, light penetration and water evaporation by using a hybrid algae product system – cross between open and closed system. For instance, the company GreenStar has introduced a hybrid of open-air and closed bioreactor system that combines the controlled environment of a closed photobioreactor with the inexpensive construction of an open pond system.
  • Algae in Bioremediation – Significant efforts are being undertaken for the use of algae in waste water treatment, and as a source of carbon capture from power plants, cement factories etc.
    • Research is going on with regard to harvesting microalgae growing in sewage and industrial wastewater. Dissolved air flotation and filtration have shown promise in the research done so far.
    • For power plants and other entities that are large scale emitters of CO2, sequestering CO2 using algae provides the opportunity of monetization through carbon credits while at the same time producing biofuels.
  • About 100 companies are pursuing the production of fuels from algae. Pilot projects undertaken by some of these companies suggest that algae could provide over 10,000 gallons of biodiesel per hectare per year.
  • Algae – both microalgae and macroalgae – have non-fuel applications that cover diverse industries. The food, health products and nutraceutical markets are the largest among these.
  • Prominent industries that have synergetic benefits from producing algae fuels are industries that either produce waste water or deal with treatment, power plants and cement plants that are large emitters of CO2, companies in the agriculture industry, poultry & cattle industry, and existing producers of non-fuel algae products such as nutraceuticals or animal feed.
  • The global biodiesel industry is projected to grow and touch around 14.4 billion gallons by 2015, from 5 billion gallons in 2009.
  • Venture capitalists are fully aware that algae energy is a high risk- high return domain, and that only companies that are willing to take big efforts to solve the problem have a chance of winning. Hence, they look for companies and teams that are trying to solve the problem by thinking big.
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Using algae for reducing the CO2



Algae live on a high concentration of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.  These pollutants are released by automobiles, cement plants, breweries, fertilizer plants, steel plants. These pollutants can serve as nutrients for the algae.


When fuels are burned there remains, besides ash, a certain number of gas components. If these still contain combustion heat, they are called heating gases. As soon as they have conveyed their energy to the absorbing surfaces of a heat exchanger, they are called flue or stack gases.

It further contains a small percentage of pollutants such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

—the primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming—along with other pollutants.
Its composition depends on what is being burned, but it usually consists of mostly nitrogen (typically more than two-thirds) derived from the combustion air, carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor as well as excess oxygen (also derived from the combustion air).

Using algae for reducing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is known as algae-based Carbon Capture technology. The algae production facilities can thus be fed with the exhaust gases from these plants to significantly increase the algal productivity and clean up the air.  An additional benefit from this technology is that the oil found in algae can be processed into a biodiesel. Remaining components of the algae can be used to make other products, including Ethanol and livestock feed.

This technology offers a safe and sustainable solution to the problems associated with global warming.


project of

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)

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Cultivation of Algae

Cultivation of microalgae can be done in open systems (lakes, ponds) and in controlled closed systems called photo-bioreactors (PBR).

Open cultivation systems use ponds or lakes with added mechanical equipment to grow microalgae. Open ponds were the first cultivation technology for mass cultivation of microalgae. In this system water levels are kept no less than 15 cm, and algae are cultured under conditions identical to their natural environment. The pond is designed in a raceway configuration, in which a paddlewheel circulates and mixes the algal cells and nutrients.

Open cultivation system for growing algae

The raceways are typically made from poured concrete or they are simply dug into the earth and lined with a plastic liner to prevent the ground from soaking up the liquid. Baffles in the channel guide the flow around the bends in order to minimize space. The system is often operated in a continuous mode, where the fresh feed (containing nutrients including nitrogen phosphorus and inorganic salts) is added in front of the paddlewheel, and algal broth is harvested behind the paddlewheel after it has circulated through the loop. Depending on the nutrients required by algal species, several sources of wastewater can be used for algal culture. For some marine-type microalgae, seawater or water with high salinity can be used.

Raceway ponds growing algae

Although open ponds cost less to build and operate than closed systems using PBRs, this culture system has its disadvantages. The ponds can be built on any type of land but need large land areas for considerable biomass yield. Because they are in the open air, the water levels are affected from evaporation and rainfall. Natural CO2 levels in the atmosphere (0.03%-0.06%) are not enough for continuous mass growth of microalgae. Biomass productivity is also limited by contamination with unwanted algal species, organisms that feed on algae or other poisonous particles. Only few species can be grown in normal conditions.
Other types of construction use: 1) circular ponds where circulation is provided by rotating arms; 2) inclined systems where mixing is achieved through pumping and gravity flow.

Closed cultivation systems use PBRs – containers made of transparent materials for optimised light exposure. Enclosed PBRs have been employed to overcome the contamination and evaporation problems encountered in open systems. These systems are generally placed outdoors for illumination by natural light. The cultivation vessels have a large surface area-to-volume ratio. The most widely used PBR is a tubular design, which has a number of clear transparent tubes, usually aligned with the sun’s rays. The tubes are generally less than 10 centimeters in diameter to maximize sunlight penetration. The medium broth is circulated through a pump to the tubes, where it is exposed to light for photosynthesis, and then back to a reservoir. A portion of the algae is usually harvested after it passes through the solar collection tubes, making continuous algal culture possible.

In some PBRs, the tubes are coiled spirals to form what is known as a helical-tubular PBR. These systems sometimes require artificial light for energy, which adds to production costs.  Either a mechanical pump or an airlift pump maintain a highly turbulent flow within the reactor, which prevents the algal biomass from settling. The photosynthesis process generates oxygen. In an open raceway system, this is not a problem as the oxygen is simply returned to the atmosphere. In closed PBRS, the oxygen levels will build up until they inhibit and poison the algae. The culture must periodically be returned to a degassing zone—an area where the algal broth is bubbled with air to remove the excess oxygen. Also, the algae use CO2, which can cause carbon starvation and an increase in pH. Therefore, CO2 must be fed into the system in order to successfully cultivate the microalgae on a large scale.
PBRs require cooling during daylight hours, and the temperature must be regulated at night as well. This may be done through heat exchangers located either in the tubes themselves or in the degassing column.
The advantages of enclosed PBRs are obvious. They can overcome the problems of contamination and evaporation encountered in open systems. The biomass productivity of PBRs can average 16 times more than that of a traditional raceway pond. Harvest of biomass from PBRs is less expensive than from raceway ponds, because the typical algal biomass is about 30 times as concentrated as the biomass found in raceways. Controlled conditions in closed systems are suitable for genetic modification of algae cells and enable cultivation of better quality species (e.g. microalgae with higher oil content).
However, closed systems also have disadvantages. Technological challenges with PBRs are: overheating, bio-fouling, oxygen accumulation, difficulty in scaling up, cell damage by shear stress & deterioration and expensive building & maintenance. Light limitation cannot be entirely overcome because light penetration is inversely proportional to the cell concentration. Attachment of cells to the tubes’ walls may also prevent light penetration. Although enclosed systems can enhance biomass concentration, the growth of microalgae is still suboptimal due to variations in temperature and light intensity.
R&D in algae biotechnologies focus on developing innovative PBR designs and materials. Different developed designs are: serpentine, manifold, helical and flat containers. From these elevated reactors can be oriented and tilted at different angles and can use diffuse and reflected (artificial) light for growth. More specific information is available in PBRs section.
After growing in open ponds or PBRs, the microalgae biomass needs to be harvested for further processing. The commonly used harvest method is through gravity settlement or centrifuge. The oil from the biomass is extracted through solvent and further processed into biodiesel.

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