Mass Culture of Microalgae for Biofuels

The Center for Biorefining received $2 million funding from LCCMR, MN DOC, MCES, and IREE to support research on developing transferable technologies for mass culture of microalgae utilizing nutrients from wastewater and carbon source from flue gas for biofuel production. Harvested algae will be used as a biomass feedstock for biodiesel and other renewable energy production.  The specific objectives of the project are to (1) test and develop photobioreactors (PBR), (2) study the growth characteristics of some collected algae strains, (3) evaluate and develop harvest and oil extract processes.  Several PBRs were developed and studied. More than 30 strains were screened, and some of them were found to grow well on wastewater. A simple harvest technique was also developed. Production of high oil content microalgae for biodiesel fuel, coupled with wastewater treatment and flue gas emission control, provides significant environmental benefits and improves the economic feasibility of the whole approach.