Bioenergy / Energy from wasteProject Production of Biofuel from Microalgae
A report on a technology that produces biodiesel and other valuable by-products from microalgal biomass harvested from large-scale algal farms.
Currently, conventional fuels from fossil fuel sources represent 95 per cent of Australia’s transport fuel consumption. Of these, diesel is the primary fuel used in the freight transport, mining and agricultural sectors, and is driving the growth in fuel imports. However, Australia has an opportunity to capitalise on its natural comparative advantages and agricultural expertise to develop an advanced biofuels industry, using feedstocks such as algae, to increase fuel security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The aim of this project was to develop an effective, scalable technology to produce biodiesel and other valuable by-products from microalgal biomass harvested from large-scale algal farms. Prior to this project there was no clear method available that was ready for commercial scale implementation and insufficient information available to evaluate the economics of such a process. It was supported through the Second Generation Biofuels Research and Development (Gen 2) Program, which supported the research, development and demonstration of new biofuel technologies and feedstocks that address the sustainable development of an advanced biofuels industry in Australia.
The first phases of the project evaluated potential methods for extracting lipids from microalgal biomass and compared different microalgal species to determine the most effective strain to use. Preliminary technical and economic assessments of the shortlisted processes were performed followed by lab-scale experiments of those determined to have the most promise.