Demonstrated large-scale production of marine microalgae for fuels and feed


Journal Article

© 2015 Elsevier B.V.. We present the results from sustained tonne-quantity production of two novel strains of marine microalgae, the diatom Staurosira and the chlorophyte Desmodesmus, cultivated in a hybrid system of 25-m3 photobioreactors and 400-m2 open ponds at a large-scale demonstration facility, and then apply those results to evaluate the performance of a 100-ha Base Case commercial facility assuming it were built today. Nitrogen fertilization of 2-d batch cultures in open ponds led to the greatest yields - from both species - of 75MTha-1yr-1 biomass, and 30MTha-1yr-1 lipid, which are unprecedented in large scale open pond systems. The process described here uses only seawater, discharges no nitrogen or phosphorus in any form, and consumes CO2 at 78% efficiency. We estimate the capital cost of a 111-ha Base Case facility at $67 million in Hawaii, where actual production was performed, and $59 million on the Gulf Coast of Texas. We find that large-diameter, large-volume PBRs are an economical means to maintain a continuous supply of consistent inoculum for very short-period batch cultures in open ponds, and thus avoid biological system crashes that otherwise arise in longer-term pond cultures. We recommend certain improvements in cultivation methods that could realistically lead to yields of 100MTha-1yr-1 biomass and >50,000Lha-1yr-1 algal oil. Comprehensive techno-economics and life cycle assessment of 20 end-to-end production lineups, based on the cultivation results in this paper, are presented in a companion paper by Beal et al.[1].

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Huntley, ME; Johnson, ZI; Brown, SL; Sills, DL; Gerber, L; Archibald, I; Machesky, SC; Granados, J; Beal, C; Greene, CH

Published Date

  • July 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 /

Start / End Page

  • 249 - 265

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2211-9264

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.algal.2015.04.016

Citation Source

  • Scopus