Use of Algae for Fuels Production Concepts for Extracting Oil from Algae
Small Business Information
15 Acorn Park, Cambridge, MA, 02140
AbstractCompared to previous generations of sugars, starches, and lignocelluloses, microalgae are a promising feed for biofuels, which can help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. While the steps from algae growth to biofuel production have been performed at the bench scale, further technological advancements will be required to produce biofuel at a large scale. In particular, the extraction of oil from algae represents a challenging cost barrier to large-scale biofuel production. Current technologies for algal oil extraction are expeller press, chemical solvent, and supercritical fluid, but none of these methods provide a commercially viable process. This project will demonstrate the use of a continuous, scalable extractor for the economical release of oil from algae. The complete oil extraction process will be a simple two-step process: (1) an aqueous suspension of the algae passes though the scalable extractor, where fluid turbulence helps cause the cells to rupture, releasing a large portion of the oil content; and (2) the released oil is separated from the water by an appropriate combination of coalescing and flotation, or centrifugal separation. Both process steps operate on a continuous flow basis, with a modest level of energy input. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The algal oil extractor has the potential to be a robust and significantly lower-cost, higher-throughput alternative to existing extraction procedures. The new process would be expected to yield a ratio of energy production to consumption of 1,400
* information listed above is at the time of submission.