Algae Synergizing Biodiesel

Utah State University optimizes algae lipid yield for in-state biodiesel producer
By Bryan Sims | January 18, 2012

Since he joined the Algae Energy Systems branch at Utah State University’s Energy Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, in 2009, Kevin Shurtleff has been working on finding low-cost avenues for algae cultivation and harvesting techniques during scale-up. Shurtleff and his team are working on a unique, floating, open-pond concept and, since moving the project from Logan to Vernal, the group is demonstrating that the lipids harvested from the one-acre cultivation pond can be used for biodiesel production.

“You kind of have to use what nature gives you,” Shurtleff tells Biodiesel Magazine. While work is ongoing, Shurtleff estimates that approximately 1,400 gallons of biodiesel per acre per year could potentially be produced based on 20 percent by weight lipid yield derived from the floating algae pond design.

 According to Shurtleff, EDL is working in partnership with Washakie Renewable Energy LLC, noting that discussions are in the works to potentially integrate an algal cultivation and harvesting facility co-located with WRE’s existing 12 MMgy biodiesel plant near Plymouth, where WRE could extract the algal oil to be used for biodiesel production. “We’re planning on that to be sometime mid-2012,” he says.

—Bryan Sims

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