I am monitoring the "algae from oil" forum and both forums have invited members to join the other (solaroof) - and there is a good connection with if-wms. The algae cultures do not need wastes to grow. They synthesize all the bionutrients needed for growth and can utilize nitrogen directly from They can bloom simply from exposure to sunlight when growing in a nuturient solution that has the minerial macro and miro nutrients. These can be supplied from sea salt. Thus the cultures of algae can be pure and the food nutrients and oil resources are produced without dependency on the "wastes" of other creatures - except the consumption of CO 2? - which is the fundamental oxygen and CO 2 balance.
Cool water that is CO 2 rich and has all the necessary minerals is the key to maximum algae culture. Turbulent flow that brings aglae to the water surface accelerates the growth. The solaroof concept of circulation of the algae to the transparent building envelope where it is carried by the liquid cooling system and where the algae will be exposed to sunlight and then return to a reservoir to bloom (growing by division). The algae is harvested by centrifugal separation and a "seed culture" is returned again to the building envelope. This is a continuous process that operates in an ideal environment for growing pure cultures of algae.
The "close out report" as NREL shut down the R&D program on oil from algae is here: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/24190.pdf
Some quotes from the report:
"Microalgae are the most primitive form of plants. While the mechanism of photosynthesis in microalgae is similar to that of higher plants, they are generally more efficient converters of solar energy because of their simple cellular structure. In addition, because the cells grow in aqueous suspension, they have more efficient access to water, CO 2?, and other nutrients. For these reasons, microalgae are capable of producing 30 times the amount oil per unit area of land, compared to terrestrial oilseed crops."
- yet they have only done poorly implemented open pond production tests:
"Single day productivities reported over the course of one year were as high as 50 grams of algae per square meter per day, a long-term target for the program. Attempts to achieve consistently high productivities were hampered by low temperature conditions encountered at the site. The desert conditions of New Mexico provided ample sunlight, but temperatures regularly reached low levels (especially at night). If such locations are to be used in the future, some form of temperature control with enclosure of the ponds may well be required."
- I expect that a closed atmosphere controlled environment that optimizes sunlight exposure of the biomass and a continous bloom and harvest process will result in production of 1 pound per square foot per year of oil. There is a strong case to focus on "oil from algae":
"Algal biodiesel could easily supply several “quads” of biodiesel—substantially more than existing oilseed crops could provide. Microalgae systems use far less water than traditional oilseed crops. Land is hardly a limitation. Two hundred thousand hectares (less than 0.1% of climatically suitable land areas in the U.S.) could produce one quad of fuel. Thus, though the technology faces many R&D hurdles before it can be practicable, it is clear that resource limitations are notan argument against the technology."
"The blue-green algae (Cyanophyceae). Much closer to bacteria in structure and organization, these algae play an important role in fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. There are approximately 2,000 known species found in a variety of habitats."
"The bulk of the natural oil made by oilseed crops is in the form of triacylglycerols (TA Gs?). TA Gs? consist of three long chains of fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone. The algae species studied in this program can produce up to 60% of their body weight in the form of TA Gs?. Thus, algae represent an alternative source of biodiesel, one that does not compete with the existing oilseed mark"
- Separation of the oil from algae is low cost and effective, however there are other components to the biomass:
"The economics of fuel production from algae (or from any biomass, for that matter) demands that we utilize all the biomass as efficiently as possible. To achieve this, the three fuel production options listed previously can be used in a number of combinations. The most simplistic approach is to produce methane gas, since the both the biological and thermal processes involved are not very sensitive to what form the biomass is in. Gasification is a somewhat brute force technology in thesense that it involves the breakdown of any form of organic carbon into methane. Ethanol production, by contrast, is most effective for conversion of the carbohydrate fraction. Biodiesel production applies exclusively to the natural oil fraction. Some combination of all three components can also be utilized as an animal feed. Process design models developed under the program considered a combination of animal feed production, biological gasification and biodiesel production."
I will conclude this quick review with this quotation from the document:
"High oil-producing algae can be used to produce biodiesel, a chemically modified natural oil that is emerging as an exciting new option for diesel engines. At the same time, algae technology provides a means for recycling waste carbon from fossil fuel combustion. Algal biodiesel is one of the only avenues available for high-volume re-use of CO 2? generated in power plants. It is a technology that marries the potential need for carbon disposal in the electric utility industry with the need for lean-burning alternatives to petroleum in the transportation sector."
I will open an Oil From Algae group at the Sola Roof Wiki? as a place where we can begin to build a knowledge base and also to assist the Sola Roof community to collaborate with others (everyone is welcome) on this important system that could be an integral feature of most Sola Roof projects.
Cross community collaboration is wonderful opportunity. - Rick
--- Lucas Gonzalez Santa Cruz <email@example.com> wrote:
If you join, there's a specific document (the first PDF in http://groups.yahoo.com/group/oil_from_algae/files) dealing with algae from waste. Surely there are other documents and many messages.
If someone interested in both (IF&WMS and oil_from_algae) cares to join and maybe summarize their findings for the rest of us *and for the zeriwiki*, that would be appreciated and useful.
<philosophy> I usually think of what we're doing in terms of "ants": select a path, do your own thing, tell others - group behaviour emerges. One element is the "tell others" which leads to integration of initiatives - only when integration is seen as a good thing by the ants involved, of course. </philosophy>
Rick, I would take issue with many of the details. As you know, I am enthusastic about the possibilities for oil - from - algae, but I am not an expert on any phase of this. If your understanding is different from mine, please let's share information. On to specifics;
It is my understanding that you could get slow growth, but if you want the type of rapid growth that will yield substantial quantities of oil, you will have to feed them something. Wastes are suggested because they are low cost and because they need to be broken down so they don't spread disease or damage the environment. In fact, the reason some researchers are pursuing this area is to treat the waste.
All of the algae culturing instructions I have read have you feeding the algae something. I assume you were about say N from the air. That is true but for rapid growth, the algae need addditional N. Fortunately, many waste streams include high levels of N. Another concern is that many plants need nutrients in a specific form. Gaseous N may not be useful to algae.
That is true, but that is assuming the correct nutrient solution. I expect this will be where we spend a lot of research time - finding the optimum levels of each nutrient.
I believe that most algae cultres will require levels greater than sea salt would naturally bring to fresh water.
Sea salt could be used for lab scale experiments, but I believe it is a preminum priced product and we are probably going to find normal salt more economic.
I will start my expirements with the salt made for aquarium hobbyists. The reports I have seen say it is adequate, but that natural seawater is preferable. Those researchers close to natural seawater, should use it.
You are assuming a marine or seawater algae. That is the direction that I am taking, but there are many species of freshwater algae and we may find they are better for culturing to produce oil. Fresh water would certainly make maintaining our circulation system easier. :-)
I believe that cultures maintained under such conditions will exhibit minimual growth. To achieve oil production high enough to be interesting, we will have to be feed the algae.
I think you want the water about 75F. I believe that we need "feed" the algae high levels of N and P to get a maximum growth rate in the culture. CO2 is needed - we will need to investigate the rate needed. I don't have a ready source of CO2. If we can find one, we will need to investigate the righ rates you alluded to.
The latest publications recommend raceway ponds with paddle wheels. While the paddlewheels will mix in air and promote circulation, I doubt they are driving the flow fast enough to be turbulent.
"The solaroof concept of circulation of the algae to the transparent building envelope where it is carried by the liquid cooling system and where the algae will be exposed to sunlight and then return to a reservoir to bloom (growing by division)."
This idea sounds reaonable, but I believe it has not been proven. I would assume that the algae culture would be seperate from the liguid cooling system. I assume salt water in the liquid cooling system would be a maintanence nightmare. And that saltwater would prevent the soap solution from helping us blow bubbles. (I believe the algae being circulated will also cool the building interior, so it will be a liquid cooling system, but we will need to keep it seperate from the soap bubble solution.)
We have discussed harvesting procedures, but have not arrived at a conclusion. Centrifugal seperators are expensive, we may need to develop an inexpensive alternative. I am hoping that we will be able to seperate the algae from the water by using a strainer and will be able to remove the lipids from the algae by putting the algae in fresh water. These are hopes, not proven procedures.
My concept is to remove 1/2 the algae from the culture each day (week?), leaving the other half in place as the seed culture.
I don't believe it would be sealed well enough to prevent the intrusion of wild species and wild bacteria. However, I invision this being inland, where all the wild algae and bacteria will be freshwater. Since the targeted species is marine and the algae medium is saline, no freshwater algae will be able to survive.
The NREL report focuses entirely on bio-diesel. I believe that SVO would be preferable to bio-diesel. I would rather make a one-time modification to my car rather than having to run a chemistry lab every week (month?).
I agree we need to collorabate. There are many fields that will necessary to making the Solaroof a success and I only have a little knowledge of a few of them.