Algae For Biodiesel

Algae Integrated Technologies offers inherently reliable solution for the depletion of non-renewable energy sources. Biofuel from algal biomass is the alternatives for non-renewable energy which will completely exhausted of all its natural energy reserves within a few years.

Algaetech has certain type of strains specifically for producing Biofuels such as   Chlorella, Nannochloropsis and Botrycoccus species.

Benefits

  • Environmental friendly.
  • Solution to reduce greenhouse gases
  • An alternative fuel source that is   renewable, economical and environmental friendly as fossil fuels are fast depleting

Biodiesel is a biofuel produced from vegetable oils or animal fats. Biodiesel has been proved to be a viable renewable alternative fuel of petro diesel that can be used effectively to power the current diesel vehicles either when used singly (B100) or blended (e.g. B20) with regular fuel or petroleum diesel (B20 is a blend composed of 20% biodiesel and 80% petro diesel). Biodiesel provides the benefits of being a renewable resource as well as an effectively a zero-sulfur emission fuel. Biodiesel blends have powered thousands of vehicles in the US. It is now being available at retail service stations in several countries across Europe including Austria, France, Germany, and Switzerland.Biodiesel is technically referred to as the mono alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from plant oils or animal fats. These alkyl (methyl or ethyl) esters proved to be suitable fuel for compression ignition engines. Biodiesel is mostly produced from vegetable oils. The major components of vegetable oils are triglycerides commonly known as triacylglycerols (TAGs) which are esters of glycerol with long-chain acids, commonly called fatty acids. TAGs are transesterified when they are mixed with an alcohol (mostly methanol) in the presence of a chemical catalyst such as sodium hydroxide. Biodiesel is produced through a transesterification reaction of triglyceride molecules present in fats and oils with alcohol, such as methanol. The transesterification reaction is illustrated in the scheme shown in Figure 8. The reaction is based on the fact that one molecule of triolein reacts with 3 molecules of methanol to produce 3 molecules of methyl esters of fatty acids, the biodiesel product, and one molecule of glycerol.

biodiesel1.jpg Micro-algae are the fastest growing photosynthesizing unicellular organisms and can complete an entire growing cycle every few days. Some algae species have high Oil content (up to 60% oil by weight) and can produce up to 15,000 gallons of oil per Acre per year under optimum conditions. One of the key reasons why algae are considered as feedstock for oil is their yields. Put simply, algae are the only bio-feedstock that can theoretically replace all of our petro-fuel consumption of today and future. Owing to the fact that oil yields are much lower for other feedstocks when compared to those from algae, it will be very difficult for the first generation Biodiesel feedstock such as soy or palm to produce enough oil to replace even a small fraction of petro-oil needs without displacing large percentages of arable land towards crops for fuel production.Algal oil is highly viscous, with viscosities ranging 10–20 times those of no. 2 Diesel fuel. The high viscosity is due to the large molecular mass and chemical structure of oils which in turn leads to problems in pumping, combustion and atomization in the injector systems of a diesel engine. Therefore, a reduction in viscosity is important to make high-viscous oil a suitable alternative fuel for diesel engines. There are a number of ways to reduce vegetable oil’s viscosity. These methods include; transestrification, pyrolysis (Pyrolysis Definition from AFR), micro Emulsion (Emulsions & Emulsification – from Wikipedia), blending and thermal depolymerisation. One of the most common methods used to reduce oil viscosity in the Biodiesel industry is called transesterification. It involves chemical conversion of the oil into its corresponding fatty ester.

Project Aim’s & Objective

The use of Nannochloropsis oil, as feedstock for a bench-scale production of biodiesel through alkali-catalyzed methanol transesterification processes.
Both physical and chemical properties of the produced biodiesel will be matched with both European (DIN EN 14214) and US (ASTM 6751-02) standards of biodiesel.

The Biodiesel Story

It became evident that the world petroleum reserves will be exhausted in the next 30 to 40 years. Therefore, a viable, renewable, and sustainable energy source that could substitute fossil petroleum must be explored. Algae are a form of biomass which could substantially increase our world’s ability to produce domestic biofuels. It is well-known from long time ago that algae produce about 70% of the global oxygen and consume the waste gas of carbon dioxide, through the photosynthesis, to build up a variety of very useful and highly energetic molecules.

In recent years, the bio-regenerative methods using photosynthesis by micro algal cells have been made to reduce the atmospheric CO2 to ensure a safe and reliable living environment. As the result of mild conditions for CO2 fixation, there is no requirement for further disposal of recovered CO2 (Lee and Lee, 2003; Cheng et al., 2006; Jin et al., 2006). Marine microalgae are expected as a proper candidate due to their high capability for photosynthesis and easily cultured in sea water which solubilises high amount of CO2 (Takagi et al., 2000). The CO2 fixation by micro algal photosynthesis and biomass conversion into liquid fuel is considered a simple and appropriate process for CO2 circulation on Earth (Takagi et al., 2000).

One of the important applications of algae is oil production which many of them can accumulate lipids due to excess photosynthesis and some species can accumulate amount of lipids under heterotrophy or environment stress, such as nutrient deficiency (Takagi et al., 2000) or salt stress (Takagi et al., 2006).

Lipids from microalgae are chemically similar to common vegetable oils and have been suggested being a high potential source of biodiesel (Dunahay et al., 1996; Chisti, 2007). Microalgae oil most accumulated as triglycerides can be transformed to biodiesel (Lee et al., 1998; Zhang et al., 2003). The biodiesel compared with fossil-driven diesel, that is renewable, biodegradable and low pollutant produced (Vicente et al., 2004). The advantages of biodiesel from microalgae are that microalgae are easy to culture and less area occupation for cultivation (Chisti, 2007). In addition, micro algal- based biodiesel is a potential renewable resource for displacement liquid transport fuels derived from petroleum (Chisti, 2008).

Two critical parameters for bio-fuel are the cost and production. The fuel demand is rising and the land is not enough for plant originated fuel production. Cultivation of certain oily crops needs vast arable areas to get oil need wide lands which it is very difficult to change all the land for plant originated oil.Microalgae may be valuable as source of feedstock oil and they being considered as single-cell photoautotrophic organisms that have the ability to grow at very high rates with only basic nutrient requirements. Certain species of microalgae store a large portion of their energy reserves in lipids, thus making them a potential oil source. This category of algae was the focus of the National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) Aquatic Species Program, with much of the work being devoted to species screening and open pond cultivation (  Ferrentino et al 2006).

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