Microalgae-Derived Biofuels and Bioproducts: Integration of Algal Feedstock Production and Biorefinery Processes [abstract]
Metadata[+] Show full item record
Multidisciplinary collaborative research program was created in order to develop innovative technologies for the economical and sustainable production of biofuels and other bioproducts from microalgae. Fast growing microalgae are efficient converters of solar energy and carbon dioxide, thereby producing many times the biomass per unit area of land when compared to terrestrial plants. These photosynthetic microorganisms have great potential to be the solution to the growing energy and environmental challenges, as a more efficient method for bioenergy production and a practical and environmentally responsible method for carbon dioxide sequestration. We have established a collection of many microalgae, specifically the native strains that adapt well to local environmental conditions and can resist the invasion by undesirable species. Conditions for the maximum production of algal biomass and target biochemicals are also investigated. Efficient techniques for harvesting and separating algal cells from culture media are developed and tested for the large-scale, field evaluation. Catalyst-free transesterification method shows potential for the economical production of biodiesel from oil-bearing crops including microalgae. Improved methods for pretreatment and hydrolysis of microalgae as cellulosic ethanol feedstock are also investigated. A pilot open-pond algae cultivation system that utilizes flue gas CO2 from a coal-fired power plant has been constructed for the investigation of the large-scale algae production and carbon sequestration/recycling. The knowledge and innovations from this research program should contribute in the development of microalgae cultivating and bio-refining systems that can economically mass-produce algal biomass feedstock and convert to biofuels and other valuable bioproducts.