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Microalgae as Biofuel

The Future of Biofuel—Microalgae at Its Best
Biodiesel is a fuel derived from plant or animal oils or fats. Because microalgae is capable of producing up to 70% of its weight in oil and grows in a relatively short time period compared to other crops that produce oil, it seems to be a natural choice for production of biodiesel. It can also be grown on land that is unsuitable for other crops. Most research on algae cultivation has focused on growing algae in clean but expensive photobioreactors, or in open ponds which are inexpensive to maintain but may easily become contaminated.

Research has shown over the years that microalgae has the potential to become the best source of plant-based biofuel and that it can be mixed with diesel as a transportation fuel, as oil to burn in boilers or turbines, and even as hydrogen for use in many applications. It has sustainability and may eventually replace fossil fuels which are becoming more and more scarce. Microalgae can be grown in most every climate and country and would eliminate dependence on countries that frequently have political unrest and wars.

Several Species of Microalgae Would be the Chosen for Biofuel
Algoid Technologies aquacultures Nannochloropsis occulata, Tetraselmis chui and Isochrysis Galbana (T-iso) species. Nannochloropsis occulata is an algae strain that is used in the production of oil used for fuel. It's a hearty strain, grows rapidly, and yields a high amount of oil when processed. In addition to their oil for biofuel, they are known to produce excellent protein content; high amounts of DHA, EPA, and ARA (polyunsaturated fatty acids); and are used extensively as feed for mollusks and cultivating rotifers.

Growing Process of Microalgae for Biofuel
The microalgae for biodiesel are most often grown in a photobioreactor, a vessel that carries out a biochemical process in the presence of light. The photobioreactor is a closed system which allows control of the purity of the culture, the temperature, the intensity of the light, and the levels of carbon dioxide and nutrients.

Studies have shown that certain environmental factors may cause microalgae to produce more lipids. Factors affecting lipid production may include phosphorus and nitrogen limitation and increased carbon dioxide concentrations.

Methods to extract oil from microalgae include several chemical solvent extractions, dry press, and carbon dioxide solvent extractions. Research is still being done today to find newer and less costly methods of processing the oil from the microscopic plants.

Research Continues to Find Ways to Effectively Process Algae for Fuel Consumption
Just recently, several studies have been done on increasing oil production from microalgae that have been found to increase lipid contents up to 500%. The future of microalgae to replace fossil fuels continues as the world searches for a more efficient source of energy.

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