High-Efficiency Microalgae Biofuel Harvest and Extraction Using Ionic Liquids
Department of Energy
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Small Business Information
Streamline Automation, Llc
3100 Fresh Way SW, Huntsville, AL, 35805
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractProducing renewable fuels from algae does not use agricultural lands and could make the US energy-independent while drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, biomass processing steps are currently too energy-intensive and cost-prohibitive.We are exploring new chemistry to obtain an energy- and cost-efficient way to dry algae biomass and extract energetic substrates for conversion into renewable fuels.We have discovered and demonstrated a chemical reaction that dries biomass, lyses (breaks up) algae cells, and extracts its lipids. The reaction is fast at atmospheric pressure and low temperatures, and produces greater lipid yields than conventional methods. Furthermore, the reaction is scalable, works with any algae species, does not use hazardous chemicals, and consumes less than 10% of the net energy gain.We plan to develop a laboratory-scale Pilot Plant based on the reaction demonstrated in Phase I. The Pilot Plant will accept moist algae and output: i) lipid stream, ii) a carbohydrates and proteins stream, iii) water stream. The Pilot Plant will yield engineering data, Net Energy Gain analysis and Economic Feasibility studies to help attract the necessary investors and partnerships to reach commercialization of the industrial-scale process.Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: Our algae drying and extraction technology, if coupled to breakthroughs of similar magnitude in algae cultivation, could make renewable fuels cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the near future. Given that microalgae is the only crop that can grow in unproductive lands and with sufficient energy yields to completely displace all fossil transportation fuels consumed in the US, the end result is a real potential for making this country energy independent while curbing CO2 emissions worldwide.
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