Novel Dewatering Method for Cost Effective Harvesting of Microalgae Biomass

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2011-00361
Agency Tracking Number: 2011-00361
Amount: $99,991.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.7
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
215 WYNN DR NW FL 5, Huntsville, AL, 35805-1926
DUNS: 185169620
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Richard Thoms
 Manager, Materials and Processes
 (256) 726-4810
Business Contact
 Deborah Phipps
Title: Contracts Manager
Phone: (256) 726-4884
Research Institution
A novel process is proposed which will allow continuous dewatering of algae growth culture in a device which is robust (no moving parts) and readily scalable through process parallelization. The process makes use of innovative passive (low energy input) flow control and does not need any chemical pre-treatment or external heat energy input. Microalgal cultivation affords the promise of renewable production of liquid transportation fuels with dramatically lower net carbon emissions than petroleum-based fuels. Although current production costs for algal biomass are not competitive with petroleum-derived fuel prices, microalgae have a number of compelling characteristics that argue for their development over other biofuel crops. The leading advantage is the fact that algae crops have the potential to yield much more oil from an acre of land (1000-4000 gal/acre/yr) than traditional oil seed crops. A roadblock in the cost-effective production of algal based biofuels is the high cost incurred to harvest the algal cells from the growth culture for further downstream processing. This project will greatly reduce the energy intensity and cost of algae harvesting, a key process located between the algae growth process and the oil extraction process. Removal of this roadblock is required for domestically sourced carbon-neutral algae based biofuels and bio-products to become commercially viable.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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