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Algae Biofuel: The Solution to the Future’s Liquid Fuel Problems
Biotechnology Design
Athens, Georgia 2013
2
Table of Contents
Problem…………………………………………………………………………………. 3
Solution…………………………………………………………………………………. 4-6
Real-Life Application of Solution……………………………………………………… 7
Logs, Graphs, Sketches, and Pictures………………………………………………….. 8-11
Copy of power point…………………………………………………………………… 12-28
Plan of Work log……………………………………………………………………….. 29
Works Cited…………………………………………………………………………….. 30-32
3
Problem
Take a minute to think about how necessary petroleum oil is in our world today. Without oil, billions of peoplewould
not be able to live their lives theway they do. Without oil, peoplewould not have access to transportation by motorcycles, cars,
or airplanes. “About 80% of theworld’s totalenergy consumption is derived from fossil fuels, with only 12.5% percent from
renewable resources,” says Daniel Tan, a writer for The Conversation website (Tan). Fortunately, for thetime being, we have
access to this oil (petroleum). Unfortunately, petroleumis a non-renewable resource that is rapidly depleting. An article published
by Resilience nine years ago stated, “There’s enough oil left to last for 40 years, says BP”(Conway). Although much more oil
has been discovered since this time, we still will not have enough oil to last forever. Also, there are numerous environmental
disadvantages to using petroleum as our primary fuel source, such as the mass emission of greenhouses gases, which cause
climate change.
First, the burning of oil outputs greenhouse gases. Normal amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphereare not a problem,
however the immense amount of greenhouse gases emitted as the result of oil being burned can cause serious issues, such as
climate change. Specifically, mass amounts of greenhouse gases can cause rising sea levels and even flooding. For example, the
temperatures at thepolar ice caps have been recorded as thehighest in the past 2,000 years, says the“Guardian”, because more
carbon dioxide in the atmospherecauses more heat to be trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, which results in higher temperatures,
and even a one degree increase in global temperature could cause catastrophicevents like the500 billion tons ice shelf that
disintegrated in less than a month in 2002, says Greenpeace International. Besides the generation of greenhouse gases, the
burning of oil produces nitrogen oxides, which are more commonly known as “smog”. Not only does smog effect the
environment, it is hurtful to human health as well. When plants in theenvironment are exposed to smog, their ability to
photosynthesizefood is hindered. Also, smog can react with water particles in the air to create acid deposits, which are released
in the forms of acid rain, snow, fog, gas, and dust. Acid rain has many negative effects, such as causing water pollution, killing
plants and animals, and even damaging buildings. Next, peopleliving in areas where smog is found can easily inhale toxic
particles from the smog, causing respiratory illnesses and premature deaths. For instance, in 1996 during the Summer Olympic
Games in Atlanta, an experiment was conducted to learn about the impact on asthma as a result of improved air quality. During
this time, peak morning traffic decreased 23% and peak ozonelevels decreased 28%, and emergency visits for asthma events in
children decreased 42% while children’s emergency room visits for causes other than asthma did not change (Healthy Places).
The problem we face today is that we will eventually run out of petroleum oil, and we need to find an abundant,
efficient, environmentally-friendly, and plausible alternative energy source that we can exploit with as few side effects as
possible. So the question is, which solution is and can be thebest alternative transportation liquid fuel source?
4
Solution
“As far as algae being the best alternative energy choice, I am not sure I would go that far due to theengineering
challenges. However, algae biofuel is probably thebest potentialsource of biomass available,” says Professor Daniel P. Geller
from the University of Georgia. There are many possiblesolutions to theneed for oil in the future, but every one of them has its
benefits and drawbacks. Hydrogen liquid fuel and solar energy are two alternative fuel sources, but solar energy is not exactly a
fuel and therefore its capabilities are not as promising as ordinary fuels even though it is a great alternative energy source. While
hydrogen fuel is an ideal alternative, it faces two significant drawbacks with current technology. The preferred hydrogen fuel
requires four times thestorage space of ordinary petroleum-based fuels, and it is produced from raw petroleumof which supplies
may become limited in the near future (Kushnir). The optimisticnews is that other solutions are right in front of us like corn
ethanol, soybean biodiesel, and algae biofuel which are among today’s top alternative fuel sources, but neither solution is able to
compete with oil’s mass production despitetheir positiveimpacts on society. There are many other possibilities that are being
researched, such as various biofuels, but none of these solutions are as practical across the spectrumas algae. Although it has
much room for improvement and possesses drawbacks, such as expensive technology prices and difficulty for large-scale
production, algae biofuel offers a more plausible solution to thegrowing problem of oil scarcity compared to all other alternative
liquid fuel sources being looked at now.
One typeof alternative energy in our society today is corn ethanol; for example, there are gas stations in the United
States with labels that read: “10% or more ethanol”. One benefit of ethanol is that it is better for the environment than gasoline.
Ethanol blends reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 10-30% reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12-19% compared to regular
gasoline. Theoretically ethanol would be a great alternative fuel source, but corn ethanol also has its tribulations. The most
significant problems with Ethanol are that it raises food prices because as more corn would be used for fuel, less corn would be
sold in the marketplace. As a result, the price of corn would rise to account for making the same income by selling less corn (Our
Finite World). Another problem with Ethanol is its effects on the environment because it was recently reported that corn ethanol
will definitely not cut greenhouse gas emissions and would be worse than petroleumfor solving theclimate change says Matthew
Cimitile from Scientific American. If corn is used as both fuel and food, then corn production will increase drastically. With
more land being used for farming, then there would be less land for wild areas (Our Finite World). Also, there is no current
machine or process that can mass-produce ethanol to thepoint of solely supportingthefuel demands of the, for example, U.S
population (Our Finite World). Another problem is theextra water needed as the farming expands. With water levels dropping
from excessive water use already, mass production of Ethanol would make this problem worse. (Our Finite World) Also recent
studies have shown that sugar beets are better for ethanol than corn because they use 40 percent less water for growth than corn
does, require about half as much land, according to OilPrice.com, and can be grown in the winter unlike corn.
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Soybean biodiesel is another alternative fuel energy source that is currently used today. One advantage of this biodiesel
is that it burns much cleaner than conventional gasoline (Iowa State University). Biodiesel has also been known to increase the
longevity of diesel engines due to its exceptional lubricating qualities. Another advantage of biodiesel is that it strengthens the
domestic agricultural economy, due to the increased demand for soybeans. Soybean is a great fuel source, but it faces thesame
complications surrounding ethanol, like thenecessity for a colossal supply of water (Iowa State University). In addition, soybean
biodiesel is exactly that, biodiesel, so it is not capable of being a fuel source for all or even most transportation. It faces other
problems as well; for example, biodiesel is about one and a half times more expensive than regular diesel fuel (Iowa State
University). Producing biodiesel causes additional land use for farms, as farmers try and meet demand for more soybeans, which
results in thesame problems as ethanol. It also reduces fuel economy; vehicles running on biodiesel can expect to see about a
10% decrease in miles per gallon, compared to regular diesel fuel (Iowa State University). In the end, because its incapable of
being a fuel source other than biodiesel and its disadvantages to the economy, soybean biodiesel is rejected as the main
alternative fuel source for thefuture.
Algae biofuel as an alternative energy source has been a more recent discovery that shows great potential. “On a per
year basis, algae should be able to producemore raw biomass than any other terrestrial or aquatic plant. That is why it is so
exciting,” says Daniel P. Geller, a professor at the University of Georgia at Athens. Even though algae biofuel also faces its own
complications, it shows the best overall performance as energy dense, liquid transportation fuel(cars, trucks, buses, airplanes,
boats, etc.) and is accompanied by challenges that can be solved, are being solved, and will be solved. There are 5 major
challenges to making algae biofuel. First is the algae strain, generally the"best" algae for biofuel are not very robust. For
example, claims of a 49% oil content alga have been made, but growing such algae is next to impossible. Second is infection, if
you have a very specific algae you are tryingto grow in an open pond, it is likely it will get outcompeted by natural algae and
bacteria from the environment. Third is water, which is the biggest issue because algae grown in open ponds reach a
concentration of about 0.1%. That means for every one unit of algae you have to remove 1000 units of water. This is very
expensive and energy intensive. Fourth is the unique cell wall of algae, which can be an issue if you are tryingto disrupt thecell
to get to the oil. This is also energy intensive and technically challenging. Fifth is theconversion of algae to biofuel. Theoil from
algae has a lot of contaminants in it that prevent easy conversion to biofuel. Theoil has to be purified before the conversion,
adding more cost and a technical challenge to the process (Geller). However, not being able to grow theideal algae can be
overcome because algae is an almost infinite natural resource that can be found in either saltwater or freshwater, and it is
estimated that algae can produce 3000 gallons of liquid fuel per acre in a year (SD CAB), which is why growing the best algae
strain is not so significant. Also, the solutions to algae being infected include growing a very dense inoculum in a photobioreactor
or simply using a photobioreactor instead of an open pond. Yes, water is an issue, but a study this past November by the
University of California at San Diego revealed that algae could be grown just well as in saltwater as freshwater. Next, algae
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biofuel requires nitrogen and phosphorus, which are elements that are not exactly renewable of infinite, but nitrogen is the most
abundant gas in the atmospherewith a 78% content while phosphorus can be collected through wastewater from agriculture,
municipal sources, and thermal polymerization. Then there is a problem with lack of usable land, as with ethanol, but algae
would require only 45 million acres to support theU.Swhile in 2008 there were 90 million acres of corn and 67 million of
soybean (SD CAB). Plus, algae can be grown in open environments like ponds or lakes. Last, the only other significant problem
that algae biofuel face is technology for its mass production, which is on its way of being developed. Algae to Energy, a company
that was founded for the purposeof developing technology has released many new technologies for the processes of growing,
harvesting, and extracting algae products economically and commercially. The Alginator (DHA / Omega 3/6 Oils) is an Algal oil
extraction technology that uses rapid non-equilibrium decompression. It utilizes energy efficiently from within thecell,
incorporates all Missing Link Technology (MLT) technologies resulting in the oil maximizing its energy and extraction making it
a low-cost and low energy solution, and supplies established billion dollar markets annually in the U. S. alone (“Algae to
Energy”). Also, theShepherd Harvester, another technology, solves theproblem of very expensive and energy intensive algae
harvesting by elimination hydraulic transportingrequirements through harvesting algae without pumping large volumes of the
algal reactor contents. This same company is also the first company to break the 10-foot algae growth “shade wall” barrier. The
company also created a new process called Algaefaction, which is a continuous conversion of algae biomass into a “light”
biocrude to be processed through existing refineries (“Algae to Energy”). This is only thebeginning, because everyday new
technology and processes are puttingalgae at the forefront as a possiblefuture alternative fuel energy source. Even though there
are solutions to algae’s problems, all of this new technology would be very expensive but overtime as the algae biofuel supply
increases and technology becomes more common, the price would decrease. This is an economic problem that is accompanied by
any new alternative energy source. Algae biofuel also has its benefits such as reducing carbon dioxide contents in the
atmosphere, and thecapability of being replicated at the local level to increase energy efficiency and promotelow-energy
overhead (SD CAB).
As a result, algae, an aquatic plant that is capable of producing more raw biomass than any other terrestrial or aquatic
plant, as a biofuel for liquid transportation fuel is thebest futurealternative energy source (Geller). Yes, algae biofuel does face
many of thesame challenges as theother possiblesolutions. However, algae biofuel gives the best efficiency and most
production per acre, and its production process also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in theatmosphere. Yet, algae biofuel
still faces a relatively expensive cost that will only decrease with more enhanced algae strains and more technology and
infrastructure. So as algae biofuel technology is rapidly developing and theprice is reducing dramatically, it will eventually
become an alternative fuel source that will be most energy and fuel efficient while costing relatively the same price as petroleum.
As a result, algae biofuel is thekey to not only our petroleumproblems but our environmental problems as well.
7
Real-Life Applications of the Solution
There are many ways that algae biofuel is applied in real life. Algae biofuel can be grown for a wide variety of
purposes. It can be grown for applications such as fuel for transportation fromautomobiles to planes to boats either using biofuel
or biodiesel. Current algae applications include a 150-mpg algae powered ToyotaPrius, a giant inflatable airship, a U.S Navy
boat powered by algae biofuel, and an algae powered airplane.
The 150-mpg Prius is theworld’s first algae powered vehicle. Thecar is a modified ToyotaPrius named Algaeus. It
has been modified to run on algae, and achieves around 150 miles to the gallon (“AlternativeEnergy”). The current goal of the
Algaeus is to drive across the entire U.S with only 25 gallons of fuel. Theother current application of algae is a giant inflatable
airship called Bullet 580. This Kevlar covered airship is 235 feet long and 65 feet in diameter, and runs on algae (“Alternative
Energy”). The Bullet 580 can carry 2,000 pounds up to 20,000 feet in theair, with a max speed of 80 mph. It can take off and
land vertically, and with theuse of algae as fuel the Bullet 580 can hover over a single area continuously for up to 7 days. The
airship can be used as an aerial surveillance device because of its outstanding fuel economy due to its use of algae. The U.S.
Navy tested one of their 49ft gunboats with a 50/50 mix of algae-based fuel and diesel (“Guardian”). Theexperimental algae
powered boat was intended for use in rivers and marshes. The U.S. Navy is committed to its use of algae biofuel and just
recently bought 150,000 gallons of algae fuel (“Guardian”). An aerospace firm called EADS is thefirst to fly an airplane
powered solely by algae biofuel. Minor adjustments had to be made to the aircraft to get it to run in algae biofuel. Due to the use
of algae biofuel, the plane had reduced carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur oxide emissions. The nitrogen oxides are
reduced by about 80%, while the carbon dioxide emission is reduced by about 50% (“Tech Graffiti”). This is only the beginning.
Eventually algae biofuel could be used with the common transportation devices we all use with less emissions. With a few
considerations and new technologies, algae biofuel could be thefuture.
With high algae biofuel costs at the moment, many potentialinvestors are very cautious about puttingtheir money into
it, especially in a bad economy, but as technology advances and algae biofuel becomes more common, theprice of algae biofuel
will also decrease. For example, while deriving fuel oil from algae has been cost prohibitivein thepast, petroleumoil on its way
to $150 per barrel or higher certainly makes it an attractive alternative. As a result, a great place to start would be near a power
plant, where the algae can consume flue gas and other waste, or near a wastewater treatment plant where the algae could consume
significant amounts of nitrates and phosphates fromthewaste stream. This could result in cleaner effluent discharge, and perhaps
eventually create “new”sources of non-potable water for industrial or agricultural use, and that is the beauty of algae biofuel. The
reality is that algae biofuel is an emerging force in themarket everyday, and once overall efficiency increases, the cost of
producing a gallon of gasoline from algae will dramatically reduce. When this happens, there will be algae farms and
biofuel/biodiesel pumps that willrevolutionize our environment and our economy.
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Logs, Graphs, Sketches, and Pictures
9
10
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
Corn Ethanol Algae
Biodiesel
Soybean
Biodiesel
Amountofland(millionacres)
Type of Biofuel
How much land is required to
produce 5% of oil consumed in the
United States,per year?
Amount of
land
(million
acres)
*Algaebiodieselonlyrequires
353,000acres of land to
produce5%of the total oil
Americansconsumeina year!
Thisnumberis extremelylow
comparedto the secondlowest
contender,cellulosicethanol,
which requires 39millionacres.
0 5 10
Corn
Ethanol
Algae
Biodiesel
Petroleum
Soybean
Biodiesel
Price (in
$USD)
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12
Algae Biofuel: The
Solution to the Future’s
Liquid Fuel Problems
The Problem
The problem we face today is that we will
eventually run out of petroleum oil, and we need
to find an abundant, efficient, environmentally-
friendly, and plausible alternative energy source
that we can exploit with as few side effects as
possible. The optimistic news is that other
solutions are right in front of us like corn ethanol,
soybean biodiesel, and algae biofuel which are
among today’s top alternative fuel sources, but
none of these solutions are able to compete with
petroleum’s mass production despite their positive
impacts on society. So the question is, which
solution is and can be the best alternative
transportation liquid fuel source?
Oil Refinery
— The oil refinery process
begins with crude oil.
Boiling temperature is
used to separate
hydrocarbons in the
crude oil into “fractions”.
This process is called fractional
distillation. The crude oil is
heated and vaporized, and then the vapor is condensed. In
a newer process using chemical processing, long strands of
hydrocarbons can be broken into shorter strands through a
process called “conversion”. This enables oil companies to
change diesel into gasoline depending on the market
demand. Refineries combine different fractions into
mixtures to make a desired product, such as gasoline with
different octane ratings. Refineries also must treat waste
created in the process in an effort to try and lower air and
water pollution.
13
Oil Benefits
— One benefit of gasoline engines is that
they produce much more power than
alternative fuel sources.
— Another benefit of oil is its ease of access.
Refilling a car with gas is a very easy
process. There are so many gas stations,
and such a high demand for gas that it is
never hard to get to a pump.
Oil Problems
— There are two main problems involved with
burning gasoline in combustion engines. The
first problem is smog and ozone in big cities.
Smog is created when nitrogen oxides are
released from the engine. Ozone is created
hydrocarbons go unburned. Ozone is
beneficial when it is in the atmosphere,
because it prevents UV radiation from
reaching us. But, ozone is a very reactive
gas, and it is very harsh on lung tissue. So,
when ozone is at ground level it is very
dangerous to society. In the picture to the
right, the plant on the
left is damaged by
ozone, and the plant
on the right is normal.
Oil Problems
— The second main problem with gasoline is the
emission of greenhouse gases. Carbon
Dioxide is a greenhouse gas released by
burning gasoline. Burning a gallon of gasoline
releases around 5 to 6 pounds of carbon
dioxide. In the United States alone, around 2
billion pounds of carbon dioxide are released
every day. This much carbon dioxide can
cause global climate change such as sea
levels rising and flooding. Another poisonous
gas released from burning gasoline is Carbon
Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is the
most common type of fatal air poisoning in
many countries. It is colorless, tasteless, and
odorless, but it is highly toxic.
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Possible Solutions
— The process of
creating corn
ethanol begins
with the planting
and harvesting of
corn.
— The process then splits
into two main types. Dry milling, and wet milling.
— Dry milling, being the more common of the two,
accounts for over 80% of ethanol in the U.S.
— The dry milling process begins with the corn being
ground into a flour called the “meal”. Water is then
added to the meal, and then enzymes are added to
convert the starch to glucose. Ammonia is added to
control the pH, and also as a nutrient for the yeast,
which is added later. They process the mixture at high
temperatures to keep the bacteria levels low, and
then the mixture is transferred into fermenters and
cooled. The yeast is then added, and the conversion
from sugar to ethanol begins. The whole process
takes around 45 hours. After the process is
completed, the ethanol is removed from the “stillage”.
The ethanol then gets dehydrated, and a denaturant
is added to make it undrinkable. The product is now
ready to be shipped to gasoline retailers.
15
— The wet milling process begins with the
corn grain going into a mixture of sulfuric
acid and water for up to 48 hours. The
slurry goes through grinders to separate
out the corn germ. The remaining
components go through various
separators. The remaining corn starch and
water is fermented into ethanol through a
similar process as dry milling.
— One benefit of ethanol is that it is better
for the environment than gasoline.
Ethanol blends reduce carbon monoxide
emissions by 10-30%. Using 10% ethanol
blends reduces greenhouse gas emissions
by 12-19% compared to regular gasoline.
— One main problem with Ethanol is that it
raises food prices. Another problem with
Ethanol is its effect on the environment. If
corn is used as both fuel and food, then corn
production will increase drastically. With more
land being used for farming, then there will
be less land for wild areas. Another problem
is the extra water needed as the farming
expands. With water levels dropping from
excessive water use already, Ethanol could
make this problem worse.
16
Hydrogen Fuel
— Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel that
can be used in fuel cells to power electric
motors, or can be burned in internal
combustion engines.
— Although Hydrogen
isn’t widely used as
a transportation fuel
today, industry research
and development are
working towards clean,
economical, and safe hydrogen production
Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel
— The major advantage of hydrogen fuel is its
effects on the environment. When used in
fuel cells, hydrogen produces no air
pollutants or greenhouse gases.
— Another advantage of hydrogen fuel is that it
can reduce our dependency on foreign oil,
because it can be produced domestically.
— Also, Hydrogen is the most abundant element
in the universe. The only trick is that
hydrogen is usually mixed with something, so
it has to be removed through chemical
processes
Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel
— A disadvantage of hydrogen fuel is that it
is expensive to produce, and it is currently
only available in California.
— Another disadvantage is that fuel cell
vehicles are very expensive.
— Also, hydrogen powered vehicles cannot
go as far as conventional gasoline
powered vehicles, because hydrogen
contains much less energy than gasoline
or diesel.
17
Solar Power
— Solar Power is defined to be power
obtained by harnessing the energy of the
sun’s rays. Solar panels use large silicon
crystals that can produce an electrical
current when light hits them. The
electrons in silicon create electricity when
they are exposed to light because they
get up and move, instead of vibrating in
place to produce heat.
Solar Benefits
— One benefit of solar power is that it is a
completely renewable energy source. As
long as there is sun, then you can have
solar power.
— Another benefit of solar power is that it is
completely silent. They make no noise
while extracting energy from the sun.
— Finally, solar panels require very little
maintenance. Since there are no moving
parts in solar panels, they are hard to
damage.
Solar Problems
— The problems with solar power involve cost.
Solar energy is expensive due to the cost of the
large silicon crystals. Solar power is about five
times as expensive as the electricity running
through today's outlets.
— Newer materials such as copper, indium, gallium,
and selenide use smaller crystals. They are also
much cheaper than silicon. But, the problem with
this new technology is that it doesn’t harness as
much energy from the sun as the expensive
silicon can.
— Another disadvantage with solar power is that it
is useless if there is no sun. If it is cloudy
outside, or if there is a storm, then solar panels
become useless.
18
— Algae growth requires CO2, water, optimal
temperature, efficient exposure to light, and
culture density.
— All of these requirements are met by
photobioreactors, which are closed systems
that provide controlled environments and
enable high productivity of algae.
— There are also many types of
photobioreactors like the MICGRO Deep
Water Reactor.
Algae to Biofuel
— After growing the algae, the next step is
harvesting and dewatering the algae. There
are three techniques for harvesting
microalgae which are filtration, most
common, centrifugation, which uses the
sedimentation principle, and flocculation,
which uses chemicals. Some examples of
technology that can accomplish these
processes are the AQ Harvester patented by
Aquaflow and the Shepherd's Harvester
developed by Algae to Energy.
19
Algae to Biofuel
— The next step is extracting the oil from the
harvested algae. The two methods of oil
extraction are chemical and mechanical
which include technology like the Alginator
Technology patented by Algae to Energy.
Depending on the technology, some
harvesters are able to complete this job as
well.
— The result is a algal slurry which is then
converted into Green Crude which is a
derivative that exhibits similar characteristics
to crude oil.
Algae to Biofuel
— Through algal oil extraction technology, other
byproducts are recovered like omega 3; for
example, there are pills available that have
omega 3 from algae because algae is very
high in omega 3.
— The last step is refining in which the Green
Crude is refined into biofuels, fine chemicals,
kerosene, diesel, petroleum fractions,
surfactants, pre-cursor for polymer
manufacture, and pharmaceutical
components.
Algae Biodiesel Process
20
Algae Biofuel Problems
There are 5 major challenges to making algae biofuel:
— 1. Algae strain: Generally the "best" algae for biofuel are not very robust. For
example claims of a 49% oil content algae have been made, but growing such
algae is next to impossible.
— 2. Infection: If you have a very specific algae you are trying to grow in an open
pond, it is likely it will get outcompeted by natural algae and bacteria from the
environment. The solutions to this include growing a very dense inoculum in a
photobioreactor or simply using a photobioreactor instead of an open pond.
— 3. Water: This is the biggest issue. Algae grown in open ponds reaches a
concentration of about 0.1%. That means for every one unit of algae you have
to remove 1000 units of water. This is very expensive and energy intensive.
— 4. Cell Walls: The unique cell wall of algae can be an issue if you are trying to
disrupt the cell to get to the oil. This is also energy intensive and technically
challenging.
— 5. Conversion to biodiesel: The oil from algae has a lot of contaminants in it
that prevent easy conversion to biodiesel. The oil has to be purified before
conversion adding more cost and technical challenge to the process.
Technology
MicGro Deep Water ReactorAlginator
Closed Rapid Field Deployment Bioreactor
21
This reduction in CO2 emissions is as a result of the production of algae
biodiesel because algae provides a carbon-neutral fuel because it
consumes more CO2 than is ultimately released into the atmosphere
when algae-based fuel burns.
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
Corn Ethanol Algae Biodiesel Soybean
Biodiesel
Amountofland(millionacres)
Type of Biofuel
How much land is required to produce 5%
of oil consumed in the United States, per
year?
Amount of land
(million acres)
*Algae biodiesel only requires 353,000
acres of land to produce 5% of the total
oil Americans consume in a year! This
number is extremely low compared to the
second lowest contender, cellulosic
ethanol, which requires 39 million acres.
Price of Various Fuels per Gallon
($USD)
0 2 4 6 8 10
Corn Ethanol
Algae Biodiesel
Petroleum
Soybean
Biodiesel
Price (in $USD)
22
Here's a chart showing various feedstock and their potential oil yield per acre.
(note: g/m2/day is the harvest rate of the algae and % TAG is the percentage of
triglycerides) These high yields can be attributed to algae's high growth rate,
which is often monitored in hours instead of days, and has inputs of only land,
sunlight, water, carbon dioxide (potential for carbon credits) and nutrients.
This graph compliments the chart on the
left and shows that Algae has the most
potential of oil yield.
The lines on the graph depict what are called “zero net present value (NPV)”
curves. These lines represent what a project would need to achieve in total
installed and O&M costs to be economically viable from a commercial market
perspective.
This graph shows the rapid growth of algal biotechnology over the past
decade, and as these technological advancements continue, the price of
algae biofuel will continue to decrease.
23
This slide shows the 2012 selling price for algal products in four categories:
Triglycerides (TAG) from open ponds (OP) at $9.28/gallon and from
photobioreactors (PBR) at $17.52/gallon, and then the finished diesel (which
requires hydrotreating the TAG) at $10.66 from OPs and $19.89 from PBRs.
This slide projects future algal fuel costs under a number of different
scenarios.
Benefits of Algae as Future
Alternative Liquid Fuel Source
24
— Q:What transportation fuels can algae
produce?
— A: Algae produce a variety of fuel and fuel
precursor molecules, including
triglycerides and fatty acids that can be
converted to biodiesel, as well as lipids
and isoprenoids that can be directly
converted to actual gasoline and
traditional diesel fuel. Algae can also be
used to produce hydrogen or biomass,
which can then be digested into methane.
Algae Fuels
Fuel Production
— Q: How much fuel can algae produce?
— A: The United States consumes 140 billion
gallons per year of liquid fuel. Algae can
produce 3,000 gallons of liquid fuel per
acre in a year, so it would take 45 million
acres of algae to provide 100% of our
liquid fuel requirements.
— For comparison, in 2008 the United States
had 90 million acres of corn and 67 million
acres of soybeans in production. So
growing 45 million acres of algae, while
challenging, is certainly possible.
Algae Growth
— Q: Where could this type of algae grow?
— A: Algae perform best under consistent
warm temperatures between 60 and 90
degrees and climates with plenty of
sunshine offer optimal conditions. Ideal
U.S. locations include many of the
southern and southwestern states, such
as New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada,
and California (including the counties of
San Diego and Imperial).
25
Cost of Algae Biofuel
— Q: How much would a gallon of algae-based
transportation fuel cost if it were available at
a service station today?
— A: Today, the cost would be relatively
expensive. Additional investment in research
is needed to further refine and enhance the
algae strains that generate such fuels. Also,
more infrastructure needs to be developed to
achieve the necessary economies of scale
that will come with large-scale commercial
production. Once overall efficiency increases,
the cost of producing a gallon of gasoline
from algae will dramatically reduce.
Algae as a Future Solution
— Q: What can accelerate the commercial
availability of algae biofuel?
— A: As viable and potentially transformational
as algae-based transportation fuels have
already proven, we need a much better
knowledge base on algae at the microbial
level. We also need to build on this platform
to develop the tools and train the next
generation of scientists that will help usher in
the age of accessible, affordable, and
sustainable fuels made from algae. That is a
central component of the San Diego Center
for Algae Biofuels (SD-CAB).
Algae Benefits the Environment
— Q: How will algae-based transportation fuels
impact greenhouse gas emissions?
— A: Production of alternative transportation fuels
from algae will help reduce the amount of CO2 in
the environment. Algae provide a carbon-neutral
fuel because they consume more CO2 than is
ultimately released into the atmosphere when
algae-based fuel burns. The amount of carbon
removed from the environment will depend on
the number of algae farms built and the
efficiency with which algae can be modified to
convert CO2 to fuel products. Eventually, algae
farms will likely be located adjacent to CO2
producing facilities, like power plants, resulting in
potentially significant CO2 sequestration benefits.
26
Availability of Algae Production
— Q: Is the process capable of being replicated at
the local level to increase energy efficiency and
promote low-energy overhead?
— A: Absolutely. There are huge advantages to
locating algae farms near urban centers. The
algae consume industrial waste and
contaminants, which are usually found in higher
concentrations near cities. A perfect location is
near a power plant, where the algae can
consume flue gas and other waste, or near a
wastewater treatment plant where the algae
could consume significant amounts of nitrates
and phosphates from the waste stream. This
could result in cleaner effluent discharge, and
perhaps eventually create “new” sources of non-
potable water for industrial or agricultural use.
Algae as Practible Replacement
— Q: Could algae-based fuels be used in
developing countries to help them bypass
fossil fuel dependence?
— A: Algae-based fuels (and the protein
byproducts derived from their production)
definitely have the potential to positively
impact developing countries. The
requirements for farming algae are fairly
straightforward and can be done almost
anywhere in the world with an adequate
supply of sunshine. In Africa, for example,
millions of algae acres could be farmed in its
less-populated regions, resulting in a reduced
dependence on foreign oil and a reliable and
sustainable energy supply.
Other uses of Algae
— Q: What can you do with material derived
from algae production not used for fuel?
— A: Production of 140 billion gallons of fuel
from algae would also yield about 1 trillion
pounds of protein. Since algae-produced
protein is very high quality, this protein
could be used to feed livestock, chicken,
or fish. Presently, all livestock in this
country consume about 770 billion pounds
of protein per year.
27
Solution
There are many alternative fuel sources that can be found today from
hydrogen fuel to algae biofuel. Hydrogen liquid fuel and solar energy are two
alternative fuel sources, but solar energy is not exactly a fuel and therefore
its capabilities are not as promising as ordinary fuels even though it is a
great alternative energy source. While hydrogen fuel is an ideal alternative
fuel source, it faces two significant drawbacks with current technology. The
preferred hydrogen fuel requires four times the storage space of ordinary
petroleum-based fuels, and it is produced from raw petroleum of which
supplies may become limited in the near future. Another two alternatives are
corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel, but ethanol also faces drawbacks, such
as, rise in corn prices and being incapable of providing enough energy to
support a large population while the biodiesel encounters the same problems
as ethanol plus its inability to work as fuel other than biodiesel. At last, there
is algae biofuel, which faces costs up to three times more expensive than
other fuel sources and does not yet possess the technology to mass produce
the biofuel. However, future technological advances will allow this and will be
needed, as petroleum will become exhausted. Compared to all of the other
solutions, algae biofuel is the most abundant, efficient, and plausible
alternative liquid fuel source.
What is the most Abundant, Efficient,
and Plausible Alternative Liquid Fuel
Source?
Solution: Algae Biofuel
Real-Life Aplication of Algae
Biofuel
28
Real-Life Algae Powered Vehicles
150-mpg Toyota Prius known as
Algaeus
Kevlar’s Giant Inflatable Algae-
Powered Air Ship
Computer-Generated Futuristic Photobioreactor Farm
29
Plan of Work Log
Date Task Time
involved
Team
Member
Responsible
Comments
1.
10/22/12-
10/25/12
Research Project Idea 2 hours
and 30
minutes
Parth and
Michael
Solar cells growth, improving solar
efficiency, and liquid solar cells
2.
11/09/12-
11/14/12
Research Algae Energy 2 hours Parth and
William
Project Idea: Algae Biofuel
And current use of algae niofuel
3.
11/21/12-
11/27/12
Algae Research 2 hours Parth,
William, and
Michael
Pros and cons of algae biofuel and algae
biofuel challenges
4. 12/04/12 Begin Research Paper: Problem 1 hour Parth,
Michael, and
William
Algae biofuel challenges and Petroleum
challenges
5. 12/11/12 Begin PowerPoint 1.5 hours Parth,
Michael, and
William
Algae biofuel and petroleum challenges
6. 12/18/12 Develop Graphs 30 minutes William Compare algae, petroleum, ethanol, and
soybean biodiesel
7. 12/28/12 Algae liquid fuel research 30 minutes Parth Begin to talk to Daniel Paul Geller
8. 1/5/13 Corn ethanol research 30 minutes Michael Pros and cons of corn ethanol
9. 1/08/13-
1/12/13
Petroleum research, Solar Energy
research, and Algae Technology
2 hours William,
Michael, and
Parth
How much oil is left, electric engine, and
algae biofuel technology prospects
10.
1/15/13-
1/22/13
Research and compare technologies
of fuel sources, soybean biodiesel
research, corn ethanol research,
compare productivity, and begin
solution
4 hours
and 30
minutes
Parth,
Michael, and
William
Economic effects of technological
development of different fuel source
production processes and compare the
available solutions
11.
1/26/13-
1/29/13
Work on putting media presentation
together
2 hours Parth and
William
The multimedia presentation is a
PowerPoint explaining all of the fuel
sources and Q&A is added
12.
2/02/13-
2/09/13
Work solution for research paper,
real-life application, and proof read
5 hours Parth,
William, and
Michael
Finish most of the paper and proof read
paper making sure all points are covered
13.
2/12/13-
2/20/13
Work on works cited page, idea for
model, finish poster board and
multimedia presentations
7 hours Parth,
Michael, and
William
The paper is completely finished, both
presentations are finished, and begin
thinking about a model
14.
2/21/13-
2/26/13
Complete all adjustments to paper
after proof-read, finish working on
photobioreactor, discuss display
layout ideas, and make sure all
guidelines have been followed
6 hours Parth,
Michael, and
William
This is just a model and not the real thing
and includes no live algae (test tubes and
test tube rack with water and green food-
coloring) and put together
binder/portfolio, and complete works
cited page
30
Works Cited
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Alternative Energy. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. <http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/giant-inflatable-airship-powered-by-
algae/>.
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electricity/>.
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prius/>.
American Energy Independance. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2013. <http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/algaefarms.aspx>.
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Berkley Biodiesel. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. <http://www.berkeleybiodiesel.org/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-
biodiesel.html>.
Biofuels Platform. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2013. <http://www.biofuels-
platform.ch/en/images/site/figures/lightbox/biodiesel_soy.png>.
The Conversation. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2012.
<http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/ 15108/width668/znpdyy2b-
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9160&usg=__zXgv0Vrx9Otr7aR6i8Vlg0CH6Ng=&h=634&w=668&
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o9gSH0IDQDA&prev=/
search%3Fq%3Dcompare%2Bsolar%2Benergy%2Bpetroleum%2Band%2Balgae%2Bbiofuel%2
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Conway, Edmund. "There's enough oil left to last 40 years, says BP." 15 June 2004.
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2010. Print.
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markets.com/algae/algae2020studyandcommercializationoutlook.pdf>.
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years-says-bp>.
31
Fuel Economy. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hydrogen.shtml>.
Geller, Daniel P., Prof. "Algae Biofuel." Message to Parth Patel. 12 Jan. 2013. E-mail.
Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/cg-fuel-cell-5.jpg>.
Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/oct/27/us-navy-biofuel-gunboat>.
Healthy Places http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/airpollution.htm
How Stuff Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/gasoline5.htm>.
How Stuff Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/algae-
biodiesel3.htm>.
How Stuff Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2012. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/oil-refining3.htm>.
How Stuff Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2013. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/ozone-
pollution1.htm>.
Hydrogen. 22 February 2013. 22 February 2013 <http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hydrogen.shtml>.
Iowa State University. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/soybean/uses_biodiesel.html>.
Kushnir, Peter. "Hydrogen Fuel as an ALternative Fuel." Army Sustainment Magazine
National Academies. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2012.
<http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=13437>.
National Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/292913/algae-fuel-future-nash-
keune#>.
Odac. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2013. <http://odac-info.org/peak-oil-quotes>.
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the-Key- to-the-Future.html>.
Oil Price. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. <http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/Why-are-we-not-Drowning-in-Algae-
Biofuel.html>.
Our Finite World. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2012. <http://ourfiniteworld.com/2011/01/10/what-are-the-problems-with-using-corn-
ethanol-for-fuel/>.
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idUKBRE89N1Q820121024>.
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work>.
32
SD CAB. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <http://algae.ucsd.edu/potential/algae-qanda.html>.
Sieg, David. Making Algae Biodiesel at Home. 2012 ed. N.p.:Information Specialists, 2012. Print.
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ALGAE Research Paper Final-1-1

  • 1. Algae Biofuel: The Solution to the Future’s Liquid Fuel Problems Biotechnology Design Athens, Georgia 2013
  • 2. 2 Table of Contents Problem…………………………………………………………………………………. 3 Solution…………………………………………………………………………………. 4-6 Real-Life Application of Solution……………………………………………………… 7 Logs, Graphs, Sketches, and Pictures………………………………………………….. 8-11 Copy of power point…………………………………………………………………… 12-28 Plan of Work log……………………………………………………………………….. 29 Works Cited…………………………………………………………………………….. 30-32
  • 3. 3 Problem Take a minute to think about how necessary petroleum oil is in our world today. Without oil, billions of peoplewould not be able to live their lives theway they do. Without oil, peoplewould not have access to transportation by motorcycles, cars, or airplanes. “About 80% of theworld’s totalenergy consumption is derived from fossil fuels, with only 12.5% percent from renewable resources,” says Daniel Tan, a writer for The Conversation website (Tan). Fortunately, for thetime being, we have access to this oil (petroleum). Unfortunately, petroleumis a non-renewable resource that is rapidly depleting. An article published by Resilience nine years ago stated, “There’s enough oil left to last for 40 years, says BP”(Conway). Although much more oil has been discovered since this time, we still will not have enough oil to last forever. Also, there are numerous environmental disadvantages to using petroleum as our primary fuel source, such as the mass emission of greenhouses gases, which cause climate change. First, the burning of oil outputs greenhouse gases. Normal amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphereare not a problem, however the immense amount of greenhouse gases emitted as the result of oil being burned can cause serious issues, such as climate change. Specifically, mass amounts of greenhouse gases can cause rising sea levels and even flooding. For example, the temperatures at thepolar ice caps have been recorded as thehighest in the past 2,000 years, says the“Guardian”, because more carbon dioxide in the atmospherecauses more heat to be trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, which results in higher temperatures, and even a one degree increase in global temperature could cause catastrophicevents like the500 billion tons ice shelf that disintegrated in less than a month in 2002, says Greenpeace International. Besides the generation of greenhouse gases, the burning of oil produces nitrogen oxides, which are more commonly known as “smog”. Not only does smog effect the environment, it is hurtful to human health as well. When plants in theenvironment are exposed to smog, their ability to photosynthesizefood is hindered. Also, smog can react with water particles in the air to create acid deposits, which are released in the forms of acid rain, snow, fog, gas, and dust. Acid rain has many negative effects, such as causing water pollution, killing plants and animals, and even damaging buildings. Next, peopleliving in areas where smog is found can easily inhale toxic particles from the smog, causing respiratory illnesses and premature deaths. For instance, in 1996 during the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, an experiment was conducted to learn about the impact on asthma as a result of improved air quality. During this time, peak morning traffic decreased 23% and peak ozonelevels decreased 28%, and emergency visits for asthma events in children decreased 42% while children’s emergency room visits for causes other than asthma did not change (Healthy Places). The problem we face today is that we will eventually run out of petroleum oil, and we need to find an abundant, efficient, environmentally-friendly, and plausible alternative energy source that we can exploit with as few side effects as possible. So the question is, which solution is and can be thebest alternative transportation liquid fuel source?
  • 4. 4 Solution “As far as algae being the best alternative energy choice, I am not sure I would go that far due to theengineering challenges. However, algae biofuel is probably thebest potentialsource of biomass available,” says Professor Daniel P. Geller from the University of Georgia. There are many possiblesolutions to theneed for oil in the future, but every one of them has its benefits and drawbacks. Hydrogen liquid fuel and solar energy are two alternative fuel sources, but solar energy is not exactly a fuel and therefore its capabilities are not as promising as ordinary fuels even though it is a great alternative energy source. While hydrogen fuel is an ideal alternative, it faces two significant drawbacks with current technology. The preferred hydrogen fuel requires four times thestorage space of ordinary petroleum-based fuels, and it is produced from raw petroleumof which supplies may become limited in the near future (Kushnir). The optimisticnews is that other solutions are right in front of us like corn ethanol, soybean biodiesel, and algae biofuel which are among today’s top alternative fuel sources, but neither solution is able to compete with oil’s mass production despitetheir positiveimpacts on society. There are many other possibilities that are being researched, such as various biofuels, but none of these solutions are as practical across the spectrumas algae. Although it has much room for improvement and possesses drawbacks, such as expensive technology prices and difficulty for large-scale production, algae biofuel offers a more plausible solution to thegrowing problem of oil scarcity compared to all other alternative liquid fuel sources being looked at now. One typeof alternative energy in our society today is corn ethanol; for example, there are gas stations in the United States with labels that read: “10% or more ethanol”. One benefit of ethanol is that it is better for the environment than gasoline. Ethanol blends reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 10-30% reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12-19% compared to regular gasoline. Theoretically ethanol would be a great alternative fuel source, but corn ethanol also has its tribulations. The most significant problems with Ethanol are that it raises food prices because as more corn would be used for fuel, less corn would be sold in the marketplace. As a result, the price of corn would rise to account for making the same income by selling less corn (Our Finite World). Another problem with Ethanol is its effects on the environment because it was recently reported that corn ethanol will definitely not cut greenhouse gas emissions and would be worse than petroleumfor solving theclimate change says Matthew Cimitile from Scientific American. If corn is used as both fuel and food, then corn production will increase drastically. With more land being used for farming, then there would be less land for wild areas (Our Finite World). Also, there is no current machine or process that can mass-produce ethanol to thepoint of solely supportingthefuel demands of the, for example, U.S population (Our Finite World). Another problem is theextra water needed as the farming expands. With water levels dropping from excessive water use already, mass production of Ethanol would make this problem worse. (Our Finite World) Also recent studies have shown that sugar beets are better for ethanol than corn because they use 40 percent less water for growth than corn does, require about half as much land, according to OilPrice.com, and can be grown in the winter unlike corn.
  • 5. 5 Soybean biodiesel is another alternative fuel energy source that is currently used today. One advantage of this biodiesel is that it burns much cleaner than conventional gasoline (Iowa State University). Biodiesel has also been known to increase the longevity of diesel engines due to its exceptional lubricating qualities. Another advantage of biodiesel is that it strengthens the domestic agricultural economy, due to the increased demand for soybeans. Soybean is a great fuel source, but it faces thesame complications surrounding ethanol, like thenecessity for a colossal supply of water (Iowa State University). In addition, soybean biodiesel is exactly that, biodiesel, so it is not capable of being a fuel source for all or even most transportation. It faces other problems as well; for example, biodiesel is about one and a half times more expensive than regular diesel fuel (Iowa State University). Producing biodiesel causes additional land use for farms, as farmers try and meet demand for more soybeans, which results in thesame problems as ethanol. It also reduces fuel economy; vehicles running on biodiesel can expect to see about a 10% decrease in miles per gallon, compared to regular diesel fuel (Iowa State University). In the end, because its incapable of being a fuel source other than biodiesel and its disadvantages to the economy, soybean biodiesel is rejected as the main alternative fuel source for thefuture. Algae biofuel as an alternative energy source has been a more recent discovery that shows great potential. “On a per year basis, algae should be able to producemore raw biomass than any other terrestrial or aquatic plant. That is why it is so exciting,” says Daniel P. Geller, a professor at the University of Georgia at Athens. Even though algae biofuel also faces its own complications, it shows the best overall performance as energy dense, liquid transportation fuel(cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, boats, etc.) and is accompanied by challenges that can be solved, are being solved, and will be solved. There are 5 major challenges to making algae biofuel. First is the algae strain, generally the"best" algae for biofuel are not very robust. For example, claims of a 49% oil content alga have been made, but growing such algae is next to impossible. Second is infection, if you have a very specific algae you are tryingto grow in an open pond, it is likely it will get outcompeted by natural algae and bacteria from the environment. Third is water, which is the biggest issue because algae grown in open ponds reach a concentration of about 0.1%. That means for every one unit of algae you have to remove 1000 units of water. This is very expensive and energy intensive. Fourth is the unique cell wall of algae, which can be an issue if you are tryingto disrupt thecell to get to the oil. This is also energy intensive and technically challenging. Fifth is theconversion of algae to biofuel. Theoil from algae has a lot of contaminants in it that prevent easy conversion to biofuel. Theoil has to be purified before the conversion, adding more cost and a technical challenge to the process (Geller). However, not being able to grow theideal algae can be overcome because algae is an almost infinite natural resource that can be found in either saltwater or freshwater, and it is estimated that algae can produce 3000 gallons of liquid fuel per acre in a year (SD CAB), which is why growing the best algae strain is not so significant. Also, the solutions to algae being infected include growing a very dense inoculum in a photobioreactor or simply using a photobioreactor instead of an open pond. Yes, water is an issue, but a study this past November by the University of California at San Diego revealed that algae could be grown just well as in saltwater as freshwater. Next, algae
  • 6. 6 biofuel requires nitrogen and phosphorus, which are elements that are not exactly renewable of infinite, but nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the atmospherewith a 78% content while phosphorus can be collected through wastewater from agriculture, municipal sources, and thermal polymerization. Then there is a problem with lack of usable land, as with ethanol, but algae would require only 45 million acres to support theU.Swhile in 2008 there were 90 million acres of corn and 67 million of soybean (SD CAB). Plus, algae can be grown in open environments like ponds or lakes. Last, the only other significant problem that algae biofuel face is technology for its mass production, which is on its way of being developed. Algae to Energy, a company that was founded for the purposeof developing technology has released many new technologies for the processes of growing, harvesting, and extracting algae products economically and commercially. The Alginator (DHA / Omega 3/6 Oils) is an Algal oil extraction technology that uses rapid non-equilibrium decompression. It utilizes energy efficiently from within thecell, incorporates all Missing Link Technology (MLT) technologies resulting in the oil maximizing its energy and extraction making it a low-cost and low energy solution, and supplies established billion dollar markets annually in the U. S. alone (“Algae to Energy”). Also, theShepherd Harvester, another technology, solves theproblem of very expensive and energy intensive algae harvesting by elimination hydraulic transportingrequirements through harvesting algae without pumping large volumes of the algal reactor contents. This same company is also the first company to break the 10-foot algae growth “shade wall” barrier. The company also created a new process called Algaefaction, which is a continuous conversion of algae biomass into a “light” biocrude to be processed through existing refineries (“Algae to Energy”). This is only thebeginning, because everyday new technology and processes are puttingalgae at the forefront as a possiblefuture alternative fuel energy source. Even though there are solutions to algae’s problems, all of this new technology would be very expensive but overtime as the algae biofuel supply increases and technology becomes more common, the price would decrease. This is an economic problem that is accompanied by any new alternative energy source. Algae biofuel also has its benefits such as reducing carbon dioxide contents in the atmosphere, and thecapability of being replicated at the local level to increase energy efficiency and promotelow-energy overhead (SD CAB). As a result, algae, an aquatic plant that is capable of producing more raw biomass than any other terrestrial or aquatic plant, as a biofuel for liquid transportation fuel is thebest futurealternative energy source (Geller). Yes, algae biofuel does face many of thesame challenges as theother possiblesolutions. However, algae biofuel gives the best efficiency and most production per acre, and its production process also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in theatmosphere. Yet, algae biofuel still faces a relatively expensive cost that will only decrease with more enhanced algae strains and more technology and infrastructure. So as algae biofuel technology is rapidly developing and theprice is reducing dramatically, it will eventually become an alternative fuel source that will be most energy and fuel efficient while costing relatively the same price as petroleum. As a result, algae biofuel is thekey to not only our petroleumproblems but our environmental problems as well.
  • 7. 7 Real-Life Applications of the Solution There are many ways that algae biofuel is applied in real life. Algae biofuel can be grown for a wide variety of purposes. It can be grown for applications such as fuel for transportation fromautomobiles to planes to boats either using biofuel or biodiesel. Current algae applications include a 150-mpg algae powered ToyotaPrius, a giant inflatable airship, a U.S Navy boat powered by algae biofuel, and an algae powered airplane. The 150-mpg Prius is theworld’s first algae powered vehicle. Thecar is a modified ToyotaPrius named Algaeus. It has been modified to run on algae, and achieves around 150 miles to the gallon (“AlternativeEnergy”). The current goal of the Algaeus is to drive across the entire U.S with only 25 gallons of fuel. Theother current application of algae is a giant inflatable airship called Bullet 580. This Kevlar covered airship is 235 feet long and 65 feet in diameter, and runs on algae (“Alternative Energy”). The Bullet 580 can carry 2,000 pounds up to 20,000 feet in theair, with a max speed of 80 mph. It can take off and land vertically, and with theuse of algae as fuel the Bullet 580 can hover over a single area continuously for up to 7 days. The airship can be used as an aerial surveillance device because of its outstanding fuel economy due to its use of algae. The U.S. Navy tested one of their 49ft gunboats with a 50/50 mix of algae-based fuel and diesel (“Guardian”). Theexperimental algae powered boat was intended for use in rivers and marshes. The U.S. Navy is committed to its use of algae biofuel and just recently bought 150,000 gallons of algae fuel (“Guardian”). An aerospace firm called EADS is thefirst to fly an airplane powered solely by algae biofuel. Minor adjustments had to be made to the aircraft to get it to run in algae biofuel. Due to the use of algae biofuel, the plane had reduced carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur oxide emissions. The nitrogen oxides are reduced by about 80%, while the carbon dioxide emission is reduced by about 50% (“Tech Graffiti”). This is only the beginning. Eventually algae biofuel could be used with the common transportation devices we all use with less emissions. With a few considerations and new technologies, algae biofuel could be thefuture. With high algae biofuel costs at the moment, many potentialinvestors are very cautious about puttingtheir money into it, especially in a bad economy, but as technology advances and algae biofuel becomes more common, theprice of algae biofuel will also decrease. For example, while deriving fuel oil from algae has been cost prohibitivein thepast, petroleumoil on its way to $150 per barrel or higher certainly makes it an attractive alternative. As a result, a great place to start would be near a power plant, where the algae can consume flue gas and other waste, or near a wastewater treatment plant where the algae could consume significant amounts of nitrates and phosphates fromthewaste stream. This could result in cleaner effluent discharge, and perhaps eventually create “new”sources of non-potable water for industrial or agricultural use, and that is the beauty of algae biofuel. The reality is that algae biofuel is an emerging force in themarket everyday, and once overall efficiency increases, the cost of producing a gallon of gasoline from algae will dramatically reduce. When this happens, there will be algae farms and biofuel/biodiesel pumps that willrevolutionize our environment and our economy.
  • 9. 9
  • 10. 10 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Corn Ethanol Algae Biodiesel Soybean Biodiesel Amountofland(millionacres) Type of Biofuel How much land is required to produce 5% of oil consumed in the United States,per year? Amount of land (million acres) *Algaebiodieselonlyrequires 353,000acres of land to produce5%of the total oil Americansconsumeina year! Thisnumberis extremelylow comparedto the secondlowest contender,cellulosicethanol, which requires 39millionacres. 0 5 10 Corn Ethanol Algae Biodiesel Petroleum Soybean Biodiesel Price (in $USD)
  • 11. 11
  • 12. 12 Algae Biofuel: The Solution to the Future’s Liquid Fuel Problems The Problem The problem we face today is that we will eventually run out of petroleum oil, and we need to find an abundant, efficient, environmentally- friendly, and plausible alternative energy source that we can exploit with as few side effects as possible. The optimistic news is that other solutions are right in front of us like corn ethanol, soybean biodiesel, and algae biofuel which are among today’s top alternative fuel sources, but none of these solutions are able to compete with petroleum’s mass production despite their positive impacts on society. So the question is, which solution is and can be the best alternative transportation liquid fuel source? Oil Refinery — The oil refinery process begins with crude oil. Boiling temperature is used to separate hydrocarbons in the crude oil into “fractions”. This process is called fractional distillation. The crude oil is heated and vaporized, and then the vapor is condensed. In a newer process using chemical processing, long strands of hydrocarbons can be broken into shorter strands through a process called “conversion”. This enables oil companies to change diesel into gasoline depending on the market demand. Refineries combine different fractions into mixtures to make a desired product, such as gasoline with different octane ratings. Refineries also must treat waste created in the process in an effort to try and lower air and water pollution.
  • 13. 13 Oil Benefits — One benefit of gasoline engines is that they produce much more power than alternative fuel sources. — Another benefit of oil is its ease of access. Refilling a car with gas is a very easy process. There are so many gas stations, and such a high demand for gas that it is never hard to get to a pump. Oil Problems — There are two main problems involved with burning gasoline in combustion engines. The first problem is smog and ozone in big cities. Smog is created when nitrogen oxides are released from the engine. Ozone is created hydrocarbons go unburned. Ozone is beneficial when it is in the atmosphere, because it prevents UV radiation from reaching us. But, ozone is a very reactive gas, and it is very harsh on lung tissue. So, when ozone is at ground level it is very dangerous to society. In the picture to the right, the plant on the left is damaged by ozone, and the plant on the right is normal. Oil Problems — The second main problem with gasoline is the emission of greenhouse gases. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas released by burning gasoline. Burning a gallon of gasoline releases around 5 to 6 pounds of carbon dioxide. In the United States alone, around 2 billion pounds of carbon dioxide are released every day. This much carbon dioxide can cause global climate change such as sea levels rising and flooding. Another poisonous gas released from burning gasoline is Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is the most common type of fatal air poisoning in many countries. It is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, but it is highly toxic.
  • 14. 14 Possible Solutions — The process of creating corn ethanol begins with the planting and harvesting of corn. — The process then splits into two main types. Dry milling, and wet milling. — Dry milling, being the more common of the two, accounts for over 80% of ethanol in the U.S. — The dry milling process begins with the corn being ground into a flour called the “meal”. Water is then added to the meal, and then enzymes are added to convert the starch to glucose. Ammonia is added to control the pH, and also as a nutrient for the yeast, which is added later. They process the mixture at high temperatures to keep the bacteria levels low, and then the mixture is transferred into fermenters and cooled. The yeast is then added, and the conversion from sugar to ethanol begins. The whole process takes around 45 hours. After the process is completed, the ethanol is removed from the “stillage”. The ethanol then gets dehydrated, and a denaturant is added to make it undrinkable. The product is now ready to be shipped to gasoline retailers.
  • 15. 15 — The wet milling process begins with the corn grain going into a mixture of sulfuric acid and water for up to 48 hours. The slurry goes through grinders to separate out the corn germ. The remaining components go through various separators. The remaining corn starch and water is fermented into ethanol through a similar process as dry milling. — One benefit of ethanol is that it is better for the environment than gasoline. Ethanol blends reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 10-30%. Using 10% ethanol blends reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 12-19% compared to regular gasoline. — One main problem with Ethanol is that it raises food prices. Another problem with Ethanol is its effect on the environment. If corn is used as both fuel and food, then corn production will increase drastically. With more land being used for farming, then there will be less land for wild areas. Another problem is the extra water needed as the farming expands. With water levels dropping from excessive water use already, Ethanol could make this problem worse.
  • 16. 16 Hydrogen Fuel — Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel that can be used in fuel cells to power electric motors, or can be burned in internal combustion engines. — Although Hydrogen isn’t widely used as a transportation fuel today, industry research and development are working towards clean, economical, and safe hydrogen production Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel — The major advantage of hydrogen fuel is its effects on the environment. When used in fuel cells, hydrogen produces no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. — Another advantage of hydrogen fuel is that it can reduce our dependency on foreign oil, because it can be produced domestically. — Also, Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. The only trick is that hydrogen is usually mixed with something, so it has to be removed through chemical processes Disadvantages of Hydrogen Fuel — A disadvantage of hydrogen fuel is that it is expensive to produce, and it is currently only available in California. — Another disadvantage is that fuel cell vehicles are very expensive. — Also, hydrogen powered vehicles cannot go as far as conventional gasoline powered vehicles, because hydrogen contains much less energy than gasoline or diesel.
  • 17. 17 Solar Power — Solar Power is defined to be power obtained by harnessing the energy of the sun’s rays. Solar panels use large silicon crystals that can produce an electrical current when light hits them. The electrons in silicon create electricity when they are exposed to light because they get up and move, instead of vibrating in place to produce heat. Solar Benefits — One benefit of solar power is that it is a completely renewable energy source. As long as there is sun, then you can have solar power. — Another benefit of solar power is that it is completely silent. They make no noise while extracting energy from the sun. — Finally, solar panels require very little maintenance. Since there are no moving parts in solar panels, they are hard to damage. Solar Problems — The problems with solar power involve cost. Solar energy is expensive due to the cost of the large silicon crystals. Solar power is about five times as expensive as the electricity running through today's outlets. — Newer materials such as copper, indium, gallium, and selenide use smaller crystals. They are also much cheaper than silicon. But, the problem with this new technology is that it doesn’t harness as much energy from the sun as the expensive silicon can. — Another disadvantage with solar power is that it is useless if there is no sun. If it is cloudy outside, or if there is a storm, then solar panels become useless.
  • 18. 18 — Algae growth requires CO2, water, optimal temperature, efficient exposure to light, and culture density. — All of these requirements are met by photobioreactors, which are closed systems that provide controlled environments and enable high productivity of algae. — There are also many types of photobioreactors like the MICGRO Deep Water Reactor. Algae to Biofuel — After growing the algae, the next step is harvesting and dewatering the algae. There are three techniques for harvesting microalgae which are filtration, most common, centrifugation, which uses the sedimentation principle, and flocculation, which uses chemicals. Some examples of technology that can accomplish these processes are the AQ Harvester patented by Aquaflow and the Shepherd's Harvester developed by Algae to Energy.
  • 19. 19 Algae to Biofuel — The next step is extracting the oil from the harvested algae. The two methods of oil extraction are chemical and mechanical which include technology like the Alginator Technology patented by Algae to Energy. Depending on the technology, some harvesters are able to complete this job as well. — The result is a algal slurry which is then converted into Green Crude which is a derivative that exhibits similar characteristics to crude oil. Algae to Biofuel — Through algal oil extraction technology, other byproducts are recovered like omega 3; for example, there are pills available that have omega 3 from algae because algae is very high in omega 3. — The last step is refining in which the Green Crude is refined into biofuels, fine chemicals, kerosene, diesel, petroleum fractions, surfactants, pre-cursor for polymer manufacture, and pharmaceutical components. Algae Biodiesel Process
  • 20. 20 Algae Biofuel Problems There are 5 major challenges to making algae biofuel: — 1. Algae strain: Generally the "best" algae for biofuel are not very robust. For example claims of a 49% oil content algae have been made, but growing such algae is next to impossible. — 2. Infection: If you have a very specific algae you are trying to grow in an open pond, it is likely it will get outcompeted by natural algae and bacteria from the environment. The solutions to this include growing a very dense inoculum in a photobioreactor or simply using a photobioreactor instead of an open pond. — 3. Water: This is the biggest issue. Algae grown in open ponds reaches a concentration of about 0.1%. That means for every one unit of algae you have to remove 1000 units of water. This is very expensive and energy intensive. — 4. Cell Walls: The unique cell wall of algae can be an issue if you are trying to disrupt the cell to get to the oil. This is also energy intensive and technically challenging. — 5. Conversion to biodiesel: The oil from algae has a lot of contaminants in it that prevent easy conversion to biodiesel. The oil has to be purified before conversion adding more cost and technical challenge to the process. Technology MicGro Deep Water ReactorAlginator Closed Rapid Field Deployment Bioreactor
  • 21. 21 This reduction in CO2 emissions is as a result of the production of algae biodiesel because algae provides a carbon-neutral fuel because it consumes more CO2 than is ultimately released into the atmosphere when algae-based fuel burns. 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Corn Ethanol Algae Biodiesel Soybean Biodiesel Amountofland(millionacres) Type of Biofuel How much land is required to produce 5% of oil consumed in the United States, per year? Amount of land (million acres) *Algae biodiesel only requires 353,000 acres of land to produce 5% of the total oil Americans consume in a year! This number is extremely low compared to the second lowest contender, cellulosic ethanol, which requires 39 million acres. Price of Various Fuels per Gallon ($USD) 0 2 4 6 8 10 Corn Ethanol Algae Biodiesel Petroleum Soybean Biodiesel Price (in $USD)
  • 22. 22 Here's a chart showing various feedstock and their potential oil yield per acre. (note: g/m2/day is the harvest rate of the algae and % TAG is the percentage of triglycerides) These high yields can be attributed to algae's high growth rate, which is often monitored in hours instead of days, and has inputs of only land, sunlight, water, carbon dioxide (potential for carbon credits) and nutrients. This graph compliments the chart on the left and shows that Algae has the most potential of oil yield. The lines on the graph depict what are called “zero net present value (NPV)” curves. These lines represent what a project would need to achieve in total installed and O&M costs to be economically viable from a commercial market perspective. This graph shows the rapid growth of algal biotechnology over the past decade, and as these technological advancements continue, the price of algae biofuel will continue to decrease.
  • 23. 23 This slide shows the 2012 selling price for algal products in four categories: Triglycerides (TAG) from open ponds (OP) at $9.28/gallon and from photobioreactors (PBR) at $17.52/gallon, and then the finished diesel (which requires hydrotreating the TAG) at $10.66 from OPs and $19.89 from PBRs. This slide projects future algal fuel costs under a number of different scenarios. Benefits of Algae as Future Alternative Liquid Fuel Source
  • 24. 24 — Q:What transportation fuels can algae produce? — A: Algae produce a variety of fuel and fuel precursor molecules, including triglycerides and fatty acids that can be converted to biodiesel, as well as lipids and isoprenoids that can be directly converted to actual gasoline and traditional diesel fuel. Algae can also be used to produce hydrogen or biomass, which can then be digested into methane. Algae Fuels Fuel Production — Q: How much fuel can algae produce? — A: The United States consumes 140 billion gallons per year of liquid fuel. Algae can produce 3,000 gallons of liquid fuel per acre in a year, so it would take 45 million acres of algae to provide 100% of our liquid fuel requirements. — For comparison, in 2008 the United States had 90 million acres of corn and 67 million acres of soybeans in production. So growing 45 million acres of algae, while challenging, is certainly possible. Algae Growth — Q: Where could this type of algae grow? — A: Algae perform best under consistent warm temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees and climates with plenty of sunshine offer optimal conditions. Ideal U.S. locations include many of the southern and southwestern states, such as New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, and California (including the counties of San Diego and Imperial).
  • 25. 25 Cost of Algae Biofuel — Q: How much would a gallon of algae-based transportation fuel cost if it were available at a service station today? — A: Today, the cost would be relatively expensive. Additional investment in research is needed to further refine and enhance the algae strains that generate such fuels. Also, more infrastructure needs to be developed to achieve the necessary economies of scale that will come with large-scale commercial production. Once overall efficiency increases, the cost of producing a gallon of gasoline from algae will dramatically reduce. Algae as a Future Solution — Q: What can accelerate the commercial availability of algae biofuel? — A: As viable and potentially transformational as algae-based transportation fuels have already proven, we need a much better knowledge base on algae at the microbial level. We also need to build on this platform to develop the tools and train the next generation of scientists that will help usher in the age of accessible, affordable, and sustainable fuels made from algae. That is a central component of the San Diego Center for Algae Biofuels (SD-CAB). Algae Benefits the Environment — Q: How will algae-based transportation fuels impact greenhouse gas emissions? — A: Production of alternative transportation fuels from algae will help reduce the amount of CO2 in the environment. Algae provide a carbon-neutral fuel because they consume more CO2 than is ultimately released into the atmosphere when algae-based fuel burns. The amount of carbon removed from the environment will depend on the number of algae farms built and the efficiency with which algae can be modified to convert CO2 to fuel products. Eventually, algae farms will likely be located adjacent to CO2 producing facilities, like power plants, resulting in potentially significant CO2 sequestration benefits.
  • 26. 26 Availability of Algae Production — Q: Is the process capable of being replicated at the local level to increase energy efficiency and promote low-energy overhead? — A: Absolutely. There are huge advantages to locating algae farms near urban centers. The algae consume industrial waste and contaminants, which are usually found in higher concentrations near cities. A perfect location is near a power plant, where the algae can consume flue gas and other waste, or near a wastewater treatment plant where the algae could consume significant amounts of nitrates and phosphates from the waste stream. This could result in cleaner effluent discharge, and perhaps eventually create “new” sources of non- potable water for industrial or agricultural use. Algae as Practible Replacement — Q: Could algae-based fuels be used in developing countries to help them bypass fossil fuel dependence? — A: Algae-based fuels (and the protein byproducts derived from their production) definitely have the potential to positively impact developing countries. The requirements for farming algae are fairly straightforward and can be done almost anywhere in the world with an adequate supply of sunshine. In Africa, for example, millions of algae acres could be farmed in its less-populated regions, resulting in a reduced dependence on foreign oil and a reliable and sustainable energy supply. Other uses of Algae — Q: What can you do with material derived from algae production not used for fuel? — A: Production of 140 billion gallons of fuel from algae would also yield about 1 trillion pounds of protein. Since algae-produced protein is very high quality, this protein could be used to feed livestock, chicken, or fish. Presently, all livestock in this country consume about 770 billion pounds of protein per year.
  • 27. 27 Solution There are many alternative fuel sources that can be found today from hydrogen fuel to algae biofuel. Hydrogen liquid fuel and solar energy are two alternative fuel sources, but solar energy is not exactly a fuel and therefore its capabilities are not as promising as ordinary fuels even though it is a great alternative energy source. While hydrogen fuel is an ideal alternative fuel source, it faces two significant drawbacks with current technology. The preferred hydrogen fuel requires four times the storage space of ordinary petroleum-based fuels, and it is produced from raw petroleum of which supplies may become limited in the near future. Another two alternatives are corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel, but ethanol also faces drawbacks, such as, rise in corn prices and being incapable of providing enough energy to support a large population while the biodiesel encounters the same problems as ethanol plus its inability to work as fuel other than biodiesel. At last, there is algae biofuel, which faces costs up to three times more expensive than other fuel sources and does not yet possess the technology to mass produce the biofuel. However, future technological advances will allow this and will be needed, as petroleum will become exhausted. Compared to all of the other solutions, algae biofuel is the most abundant, efficient, and plausible alternative liquid fuel source. What is the most Abundant, Efficient, and Plausible Alternative Liquid Fuel Source? Solution: Algae Biofuel Real-Life Aplication of Algae Biofuel
  • 28. 28 Real-Life Algae Powered Vehicles 150-mpg Toyota Prius known as Algaeus Kevlar’s Giant Inflatable Algae- Powered Air Ship Computer-Generated Futuristic Photobioreactor Farm
  • 29. 29 Plan of Work Log Date Task Time involved Team Member Responsible Comments 1. 10/22/12- 10/25/12 Research Project Idea 2 hours and 30 minutes Parth and Michael Solar cells growth, improving solar efficiency, and liquid solar cells 2. 11/09/12- 11/14/12 Research Algae Energy 2 hours Parth and William Project Idea: Algae Biofuel And current use of algae niofuel 3. 11/21/12- 11/27/12 Algae Research 2 hours Parth, William, and Michael Pros and cons of algae biofuel and algae biofuel challenges 4. 12/04/12 Begin Research Paper: Problem 1 hour Parth, Michael, and William Algae biofuel challenges and Petroleum challenges 5. 12/11/12 Begin PowerPoint 1.5 hours Parth, Michael, and William Algae biofuel and petroleum challenges 6. 12/18/12 Develop Graphs 30 minutes William Compare algae, petroleum, ethanol, and soybean biodiesel 7. 12/28/12 Algae liquid fuel research 30 minutes Parth Begin to talk to Daniel Paul Geller 8. 1/5/13 Corn ethanol research 30 minutes Michael Pros and cons of corn ethanol 9. 1/08/13- 1/12/13 Petroleum research, Solar Energy research, and Algae Technology 2 hours William, Michael, and Parth How much oil is left, electric engine, and algae biofuel technology prospects 10. 1/15/13- 1/22/13 Research and compare technologies of fuel sources, soybean biodiesel research, corn ethanol research, compare productivity, and begin solution 4 hours and 30 minutes Parth, Michael, and William Economic effects of technological development of different fuel source production processes and compare the available solutions 11. 1/26/13- 1/29/13 Work on putting media presentation together 2 hours Parth and William The multimedia presentation is a PowerPoint explaining all of the fuel sources and Q&A is added 12. 2/02/13- 2/09/13 Work solution for research paper, real-life application, and proof read 5 hours Parth, William, and Michael Finish most of the paper and proof read paper making sure all points are covered 13. 2/12/13- 2/20/13 Work on works cited page, idea for model, finish poster board and multimedia presentations 7 hours Parth, Michael, and William The paper is completely finished, both presentations are finished, and begin thinking about a model 14. 2/21/13- 2/26/13 Complete all adjustments to paper after proof-read, finish working on photobioreactor, discuss display layout ideas, and make sure all guidelines have been followed 6 hours Parth, Michael, and William This is just a model and not the real thing and includes no live algae (test tubes and test tube rack with water and green food- coloring) and put together binder/portfolio, and complete works cited page
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