Self-Regulating Algae Photobioreactor Design
The biofuels industry is currently suffering from high feedstock costs that are hampering their widespread utilization as primary transportation fuels. In addition, the use of crops that are also an important food source is unsustainable and has already dramatically raised prices for soybean and palm oils, the principal biodiesel feedstocks. The expansion of traditional crop-based biofuels also could have enormous environmental drawbacks, such as depleting water resources, increasing soil erosion, and pollution runoff from pesticides and fertilizers. Without the adoption of new sources of biofuel feedstocks, no significant reduction of imported petroleum will be achieved. This project will develop a unique photobioreactor design for the cultivation of algae as a biofuel. The photobioreactor design incorporates a unique material that has the ability to regulate the temperature of the circulating algae growth medium, in order to conserve energy. The basis of the system design is a closed polyethylene membrane system, which will be tested in Phase I in a small prototype unit outdoors. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The photobioreactor should lead to the availability of significant quantities of algae oil and byproducts for the U.S. biofuels industry, thereby lowering biofuels prices as well as prices on food crops currently being utilized for biofuels. The technology also should be useful to other industries that utilize algae, such as the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Drew M. Spradling
Brian E. Joseph
Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd.
The Millennium Centre Triadelphia, WV 26059
Number of Employees: