Algae Processing Research atthe University of Texas at Austin         Program Overview                 Mike Werst         ...
Why Algae?• Algae has many uses…..  – Energy  – Fertilizer  – Food  – Medical  – Pollution Control  – …..?
The Problem—Production Cost• Technical feasibility demonstrated years ago   – Present cost to produce 1 gallon of algae oi...
The UT Algae Effort is   • Large        – >60 faculty, researchers, and students        – Plus larger group of researchers...
UT Algae Processing Team                  Faculty/Staff/Students – 2010-2011•   Center for Electromechanics              •...
Integrated Algae Processes•   Harvest and concentrate to return 99% of water•   Lyse algae to rupture cells and release li...
Processing Technology                                         Overview                          • identify and quantify th...
CONCENTRATION
Concentration  Challenges                   Considerations• Micron Size Algae       • Algae Species (Mix)• Dilute Concentr...
Semi-Batch Process   pH-Induced                              De-Flocculation   Flocculation                     ACID      ...
Semi-Batch Concentration                Process             pH Increase   Settling and Deflocculation                     ...
Continuous Flocculation/Deflocculation Concentration Process
Features & Technology Potential  Yields biomass not contaminated with flocculants (e.g.,  metals, polymers) that may make ...
LYSING
Electromechanical Lysing                   Background• Electroporation of  sugarcane  – On-going  – Successful• Developing...
Extension to Algae• Significant challenges  –   Negligible cost  –   No drying  –   No solvents  –   Unlike sugarcane     ...
Insight – Time Scales Matter• Field applied               • Different volumes  – Less than a                 have differen...
EM Lysing Effectiveness• Electromechanical cell lysing verified by:    – EM Analysis - good correlation with wave theory  ...
Lysis Validation – TEM and SEM           Microscopy      control                                                          ...
Laboratory Lysing Power Supply• Marx bank used for lab testing  – Convenient, adjustable voltage    source  – Does not pro...
Solid State Lysing Power                Supply• Proof of principle  device, designed  built and  demonstrated• Patents fil...
Cost Implications• We apply relatively high voltages pulses for a very  short duration• Power consumption is very low• Sol...
OIL SEPARATION
―Solventless Process‖                                                                  Oil    Concentrated & Lysed    Alga...
HPLC Separation Results                                        Extraction Algae Feed                                      ...
ANALYSIS
Integrated Mass Balance                                                                Processing flowchartCultivationBatc...
Chemical Analyses• Tools   –   TLC   –   HPLC/MS   –   NMR   –   GC/MS• Track oil throughout processing   – Lipid classes ...
Summary• The solution is multidisciplinary, so UT assembled a team of   university experts and formed a company to commerc...
Contact InformationMr. Mike Werst                Dr. Robert HebnerCenter for Electromechanics   Center for Electromechanic...
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Algae processing research at the university of texas at austin werst - april 2011

  1. 1. Algae Processing Research atthe University of Texas at Austin Program Overview Mike Werst m.werst@cem.utexas.edu April 27, 2011
  2. 2. Why Algae?• Algae has many uses….. – Energy – Fertilizer – Food – Medical – Pollution Control – …..?
  3. 3. The Problem—Production Cost• Technical feasibility demonstrated years ago – Present cost to produce 1 gallon of algae oil: $10-30• Issues…production scale-up and cost reduction – Strain selection/design – oil yield, growth rates, stability – Production systems – open ponds/bioreactors, phototrophic/heterotrophic – Measuring oil content during growth – CO2 and nutrient sources – Harvesting – Bi-product recovery – Capital costs – Energy and water use
  4. 4. The UT Algae Effort is • Large – >60 faculty, researchers, and students – Plus larger group of researchers in associated, related fields • Multidisciplinary – Biologists, biochemists, physicists and engineers: mechanical, electrical, chemical, civil and environmental • Focused on Making Processing Economically Viable – Complete Process • Algae selection/design • Growth • HarvestingProcessing • DewateringTeam • LysingPrimary • SeparationFocus • Metrology – without good process measurements, there is no process control • Fuel/bi-product production – as needed • Life cycle analysis – program focus, regulatory acceptance • Funded by OpenAlgae • UT and Organic Fuels created company in 2008 to license and commercialize algae processing equipment
  5. 5. UT Algae Processing Team Faculty/Staff/Students – 2010-2011• Center for Electromechanics • EWRE—Environmental & Water Resource – Dr. Bob Hebner Engineering (Civil Egr) – Robert Pearsall – Dr. Lynn Katz – Dr. Rhykka Connelly – Dr. Kerry Kinney – Dan Schmid – Dr. Eric Chin – Morela Montoya – JinYong Choi – Mike Werst – Allison Osborn – Dr. Mark Flynn – Fernando Salas – Tom Hotz – Aurore Mercelat – Bruce Morison • Molecular Cell Biology (Natural Sciences) – Bryan Bunkowski – Dr. Marty Poenie – Jody Van Reet – Jessica Jones – Cynthia Amoles – Dr. Schonna Manning – Andrew Weldon • Mechanical Engineering – Evan Morison – Dr. Rod Ruoff – Hoyt Thomas – Dr. Colin Beal – Dr. John Uglum – Christopher Myer• SRP—Separations Research Program (Chem Egr) • Electrical Engineering – Dr. Frank Seibert – Dr. Alexis Kwasinski – Steve Briggs – Sungwoo Bae – Robert Montgomery – Ankur Dass
  6. 6. Integrated Algae Processes• Harvest and concentrate to return 99% of water• Lyse algae to rupture cells and release lipids (oil)• Recover oil and biomass without solvent contamination• Test and measure at each step to validate process• Process any algae from any growth media
  7. 7. Processing Technology Overview • identify and quantify the types of lipids present in algaemeasure • follow the abundance of lipids in algae through the processes of Growth, Harvesting, Lysis, and Recovery HPLC TLC NMR Mass Spec • determine the composition of the final oil grow• 4-stage scale-up to raceway ponds harvest/• strain selection -- over 3,000 concentrate lyse strains readily available through UTEX Collection • multiple concentration • patented technology methods under exploration employing electromechanical recovery• species-specific optimization forces strip cell walls and • pH adjustment • patented membrane to maximize lipid or protein expose lipid droplets technology recovers oils mobile platform content • proprietary resin technology • solvent-less system maintains without exposing the algae to solvents • skid-mounted modular unit at• daily analyses of lipid and the integrity of the algal protein content • proprietary electrowicking biomass algae site process • pilot or production scale unit • works on fresh, brackish, and will harvest, lyse, and recover marine algae oils from algae OpenAlgae and • extremely cost efficient • biomass remains untainted by The University of Texas Algae Program solvents and can be sold for Center for Electromechanics downstream applicationsDirector: Dr. Robert Hebner. Algae Biofuels Program Manager: Mike Werst. (organic fertilizer, feed, etc.)
  8. 8. CONCENTRATION
  9. 9. Concentration Challenges Considerations• Micron Size Algae • Algae Species (Mix)• Dilute Concentrations • Water Composition• High Volumes – Brackish/Fresh• Negatively Charged• Suspended in Solution – Conductivity, pH, ionic comositio n • Paste or Pumpable Product • Byproducts • Cost—largely
  10. 10. Semi-Batch Process pH-Induced De-Flocculation Flocculation ACID Base ALGAE CONCENTRATE Discharge or Recycle Discharge or Recycle (if stream present)Increase Fill & Recirculation Acidification Deliver to the pH & Settling & Separation down stream
  11. 11. Semi-Batch Concentration Process pH Increase Settling and Deflocculation Or UT Home Algae GrownTrucked-In
  12. 12. Continuous Flocculation/Deflocculation Concentration Process
  13. 13. Features & Technology Potential Yields biomass not contaminated with flocculants (e.g., metals, polymers) that may make the product unsuitable for some downstream applications A continuous flow process that utilizes readily available reagents (base and carbon dioxide) to achieve high removal efficiencies. Generates a homogeneous, deflocculated microalgae slurry which is compatible with UT’s lysing and oil separation processes.
  14. 14. LYSING
  15. 15. Electromechanical Lysing Background• Electroporation of sugarcane – On-going – Successful• Developing 1.2 Brix values of extracted juice (100 pulses) diagnostics to Average Brix 1.0 difference: 0.37 0.8 determine Brix 0.6 Test Control effectiveness 0.4 0.2 0.0 A B C Avg
  16. 16. Extension to Algae• Significant challenges – Negligible cost – No drying – No solvents – Unlike sugarcane • Not water soluable • Physically large structures – Electroporation alone unlikely – Cell wall and cell membrane
  17. 17. Insight – Time Scales Matter• Field applied • Different volumes – Less than a have different time microsecond constants • Electroporation only • Physical motion not possible – Greater than a microsecond • Physical distortion possible
  18. 18. EM Lysing Effectiveness• Electromechanical cell lysing verified by: – EM Analysis - good correlation with wave theory – Spectrophotometric chemical and chlorophyll assays – Biodiesel and algae oil quantities produced – Released triglyceride, protein and enzymes analyses – Fluorescent imaging – High speed camera imaging – Scanning electron microscope• Also use Dounce homogenizer, bead beater, ultrasonic and French press for comparison
  19. 19. Lysis Validation – TEM and SEM Microscopy control pulsedBeal et al., ―Progression of Lipid Profile and Cell Structure in a Research Production Pathway for Algal Biocrude,‖ In Review
  20. 20. Laboratory Lysing Power Supply• Marx bank used for lab testing – Convenient, adjustable voltage source – Does not provide optimum wave shape – Not efficient or practical for field use
  21. 21. Solid State Lysing Power Supply• Proof of principle device, designed built and demonstrated• Patents filed• Paper* published
  22. 22. Cost Implications• We apply relatively high voltages pulses for a very short duration• Power consumption is very low• Solid state power supply produces very unique pulse shapes• Design uses components that are commercially available• Design can be manufactured by power electronics industry
  23. 23. OIL SEPARATION
  24. 24. ―Solventless Process‖ Oil Concentrated & Lysed Algae Slurry Oil Separation Separate water and algae• UT-OpenAlgae patented enhanced coalescence membrane extractor• No distillation required in solventless operating mode• May also be used with selective solvents for extraction of other algae bi- products
  25. 25. HPLC Separation Results Extraction Algae Feed Polar Oil DG HC DG Extracted Oil HC Polar Oil BCMembrane extractor is effective for recovering non-polar oil from well-lysed algae• Supported with pilot data• Up to 94% extraction efficiencies demonstrated• No plugging observed with non or de-flocculated lysed algae concentrate• Proposed separation mechanism is coalescence• With solventless operation, cost to operate simply pumping cost to overcome pressure drop across membrane; all components are COTs
  26. 26. ANALYSIS
  27. 27. Integrated Mass Balance Processing flowchartCultivationBatch Record C-011511-1 (AC) Samples are collected before and after CEM each processing step. H-011511-1 Volume, biomass, and lipid content are Harvest: measured. Cellular morphologies are Batch Record monitored. (AH) EWRE H-011511-3 L-011611-1 Lysing: Batch Record H-011511-2 effluent recycled back to pond (AL) L-011611-2 CEM E-011711-1 Extraction: Batch Record (AE) SRP E-011711-9 E-011711-14 final biomass final oil
  28. 28. Chemical Analyses• Tools – TLC – HPLC/MS – NMR – GC/MS• Track oil throughout processing – Lipid classes – Specific lipid species• Identify components – Liberated from biomass – Attached to biomass
  29. 29. Summary• The solution is multidisciplinary, so UT assembled a team of university experts and formed a company to commercialize the technologies• Optimization of the process requires understanding at the system level, not just the individual process step level• The UT-OpenAlgae integrated process is algae and growth method agnostic• Significant progress is being made in driving down cost
  30. 30. Contact InformationMr. Mike Werst Dr. Robert HebnerCenter for Electromechanics Center for ElectromechanicsAlgae Program Manager Director(512) 232-1604 (512) 232-1628m.werst@cem.utexas.edu r.hebner@cem.utexas.eduMr. Hoyt ThomasOpenAlgaePresident and CEO(713) 979-2600hhthomas@openalgae.com

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