The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Algae May be a Potential Source of Biofuels and Biochemicals Even in Cool Climate

Algae are organisms useful in many ways in the transition towards a bio-economy. Even in a cool climate as in Finland, algae might be used to produce biochemicals and biofuels, besides use in capture of industrial carbon dioxide emissions. The ALGIDA project coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland explored algae growing in Finland.

Growing algae at VTT's laboratory. Credit: VTT

Algae are not yet profitably cultivated for energy production purposes. The cultivation is challenging especially in cool climate where there is little daylight in winter.

Production is expensive compared with wood and agricultural biomass. But the findings of the ALGIDA project indicate that establishing profitable algae cultivation can also be possible in Finland.

The components of algae are suitable not only for producing biofuels but also pigments, cosmetics components or hydrogels. Algae are also used in the production of nutritional supplements, particularly omega-3. Algal biomass is suitable for biofertilisers.

"The most sensible thing to do in Finland is to integrate cultivation into industrial processes with spill heat and to integration into industrial processes with spill heat and focus development on the production of biofuels and biochemical compounds, and on nutrient removal from effluents. Algae can also be used to recover nutrients, organic impurities and heavy metals from waste and waste water," says the project manager, Principal Scientist Mona Arnold from VTT.

Using algae to produce biofuels requires growing conditions where the algae produce high levels of lipids. The profitability of commercialisation depends on trends in oil prices. Economically sustainable production requires that all components of the algal biomass need are used. This is an internationally active area of research, and it is worthwhile for Finland to be involved. The aviation industry in particular is interested in the potential of algae-based biofuels.

Algae Need Heat, But Manage without Light

The purpose of the ALGIDA project was to explore algae growth in waste waters in Finland and how the condition could be improved. Short daylight hours of winter are a problem, but algae are able to adapt to variable growing conditions. There are basically two options for a carbon source in algae cultivation: either carbon dioxide in the air and in industrial emissions, or organic waste. The project demonstrated the possibility of cultivating algae by using carbon dioxide source in the summer, when light is available and waste sugar in the winter.

Algae need warmth to grow. In the Finnish climate it makes sense to link algae cultivation to industrial operations where residual heat is available to heat algae cultivation ponds or reactors. Energy is also needed for harvesting and water extraction. In the SWEET programme, VTT and Kemira collaborated to develop chemical means for enhancing the harvesting and drying stage.

VTT is currently launching cooperation with the oil and gas company ONGC in India and with CLEEN Ltd. (Cluster for Clean Energy and Environment in Finland). The aim here is to demonstrate the capacity of algae in pilot scale to bind carbon dioxide from emissions from a natural gas refinery. This will reveal the potential of algae in a CO2 capture, best applications for algal biomass and how well algae could be grown in industrial waste water.

View the video below for more information about algae production paired with fossil fuel plants.

 

VTT coordinated the project 'Algae from waste for combined biodiesel and biogas production' (ALGIDA) between 2010 and 2013. VTT collaborated with the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Environmental Institute, the HAMK University of Applied Sciences and the Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

RELATED ARTICLES

UK Parliament Clean Energy Leaders

UK Government Names Clean Energy Cabinet Members

David Appleyard, Contributing Editor With the UK general election now over and a majority Conservative Party government in place, the re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has now named key members of the government charged with steering the UK’s clean energ...
Microgrids

Coast to Coast and Across the Electric System, Microgrids Provide Benefits to All

Dick Munson, Environmental Defense Fund At the most obvious level, microgrids could disrupt today’s utilities and their regulated-monopoly business model, because they challenge the centralized paradigm. In a nutshell, microgrids are localized power grids that ha...
Alaska Airlines Biofuel

Alaska Airlines, Gevo To Demonstrate Renewable Alcohol-to-Jet Fuel

Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest

In Colorado, Gevo and Alaska Airlines announced a strategic alliance to purchase Gevo’s renewable jet fuel and fly the first-ever commercial flight on alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ).

Germany wind turbines. Credit: Shutterstock.

Germany's Powerhouse Feels Pinch of Merkel’s Shift to Renewables

Tino Andresen, Bloomberg North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state that’s home to utilities RWE AG and EON SE, is losing its standing as the country’s powerhouse as wind and solar energy begin to displace conventional sources. Electricity consumers ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

03/01/2015
Volume 18, Issue 3
file

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

Now in its 31st year, the FEW provides the global ethanol industry with...

Green Energy Summer School: Introduction to Bioenergy

This introductory course gives a detailed overview of the principles of ...

23rd European Biomass Conference and Exhibition

A world class renowned event for dialogue between research, industry, po...

COMPANY BLOGS

US Energy Grid Review Finds Needed Upgrades Would Allow More Solar,...

Yesterday (April 21) the U.S. Department of Energy released the first Qu...

Clean Energy Patents Rise in 2014, Solar Tops others, Toyota and GM...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies in 2014 were again at an all ...

Environmentally friendly solutions for projects

geoAMPS joins the celebration of the worldwide observance of Earth Day o...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS