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Energy 101 | Algae-to-Fuels

Youtube text: As America takes steps to improve our energy security, home-grown fuel sources are more important that ever. One of the fuel sources of the future is algae, small aquatic organisms that convert sunlight into energy and store it in the form of oil. Scientists and engineers at the Energy Department and its national laboratories are researching the best strains of algae and developing the most efficient farming practices. This edition of Energy 101 shows how oil is extracted from algae and refined into sustainable biofuels.

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University of Kentucky researchers are looking at the potential of using waste CO2 and heat from a coal-fired power plant to cultivate algae, which can then be processed into value-added products like biodiesel, animal feed, fertilizer, and chemicals. This breakthrough carbon-capture technology is being funded by $1.3 million from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, $543,633 from UK and $75,000 of in-kind costs from the East Kentucky Power Cooperative to demonstrate the process at EKPC’s Dale Power Station for the next two years.

Using algae for reducing CO2 in the atmosphere is known as algae-based Carbon Capture technology. Algaetech International provide the necessary assistance on the technology establishment and facilitate in the development of R&D plant as a pilot for AIMSys on a basis for further expansion and collaboration in the future for growing algae.

Two major problems facing the physical world today can be broadly categorized into (1) how to increase the amount of consumable energy available for the worlds needs and (2) how to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Of course, these problems are negatively linked together inasmuch as, without further offsets, an increase in the production of carbon fuels leads to an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases produced when these fuels are consumed. In this video we shall look at a method that breaks this negative link by considering a project that increases the worlds supply of oil using biofuels and which at the same time decreases the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide used during its production. The resulting product is a sustainable biofuel whose carbon footprint is neutral inasmuch as the CO2 produced on consumption is essentially balanced by the CO2 used in its production.

Brunswick Community College’s (BCC) Center for Aquaculture and Biotechnology (CAB) has implemented a Biofuels from Algae project as a joint effort between the departments of Aquaculture and Biotechnology. This included the design and construction of an 1800 gallon photobioreactor system during phase 1 of the project. Phase II focused on the downstream processing of oil extraction. BCC’s CAB has a patent pending status on this process, which is purely mechanical, easily scalable and relatively cheap to implement. The final phase of the project (pending funding) will optimize and refine the oil extraction process, which will give us the opportunity to file a full patent, license the patent to industry or develop a trade secret with an industry partner, which will quickly move the process to commercialization. If the final phase is funded we will also obtain data on the yield of oil production, yield to biodiesel conversion, chemical composition of the extracted oil and determine the best species for use in the process developed at BCC.

Algae.Tec is a globally focused advanced renewable oil company. Algae.Tec is commercializing an enclosed modular high-yield algae to oil growth system at the Algae Development & Manufacturing Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. The Algae.Tec photo bio-reactors use water, sunlight and nutrients to grow algae that produces high-value sustainable fuels such as biodiesel and jet fuel.

NASA scientist Jonathan Trent is developing a smarter way to turn algae into oil. He’s created plastic osmotic containers that will float below the surface of the ocean, grow algae, and then help it bloom into oil. He says the new method is more beneficial because algae can grow in a larger area and doesn’t compete with agricultural land.


Algae expert Stephen Mayfield discusses latest research in algae biotechnology for fuel and pharmaceuticals.

In this video we are covering the basics for getting started on growing algae. This video series is geared towards teachers and students but can be used by anyone. Our goal is to show you how to grow algae with easily available and inexpensive equipment. Keep in mind that getting algae to grow fast requires a different environment than getting it to make lipids. These first videos will show you how to get it growing fast. Later videos will cover how to increase lipid production.


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