Feasibility Study on Microalgal Biofuel Production

Topics: Biofuel, Algae fuel, Biodiesel Pages: 11 (2791 words) Published: March 11, 2014
Joash Savaris Castro

Oil price is a major issue globally as oil is a major requirement in almost all industries to operate. Another arising issue is the diminishing supply of fossil fuel or crude oil from major suppliers. With these in mind, researches for a potential alternative source of fuel are conducted all over the world. Microalgae is found to be a potential feedstock for the production of biofuel. Production of biofuel from microalgae involves processes starting from microalgae species selection to transesterification to collect produced biofuel. Philippines formerly showed interest on funding researches for biofuel production from microalgae. Upon consultation with a professor involved in the forum, it was found out that funding for local researches is still unavailable and the objective of the government has shifted to researching on the production of high-value algal products. Costs of production is the primary reason why microalgal biofuel is still deemed uneconomical for commercial production but researches on determining the most efficient methods for production utilizing the most efficient lipid-producing species of microalgae is ongoing to minimize costs.

Crude oil is the raw material for the production of petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel. This material is primarily available in Middle Eastern countries, West Africa, the Americas, and Russia (University of Delaware, 2004). It is pumped from the ground and brought to oil refineries to produce finished petroleum products. Oil refining may start up as simple distillation but production of higher valued products requires additional sophisticated processes and equipment.

Oil price is primarily driven by the rising global demand and political instability in several oil producing countries (www.thepriceoffuel.com, 2011). Prices of oil are highly \\FILESERVER1\Userdata\JSCastro\My Documents\JSC\Special Projects\FEASIBILITY STUDY ON ALGAL BIOFUEL PRODUCTION

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influenced by the supply availability and the current political situation of supplying countries. When the supply goes low or when there is war in the supplying countries, oil prices would definitely go up.

This is one of the reasons why countries that depend on their oil supply from Middle Eastern countries show interests and fund researches on biofuels. Biofuels are fuels derived from organic material (Rabago, 2008). Biofuels require shorter time to reach their usable state and to replenish by natural growth as compared to fossil fuels (Rabago, 2008). Several types of biofuels have been utilized and are available in the market already such as vegetable oil, bioalcohols, ethanol fuel, biogas (biofuel.org.uk, 2010). Second generation biofuels are those which are produced from biomass and are still under development include Fischer-Tropsch diesel, bioDME, DMF, biomethanol, biohydrogen, wood diesel, mixed alcohol, and biohydrogen diesel (biofuel.org.uk, 2010). An emerging third generation of biofuel is derived from algae which are called oilgae (biofuel.org.uk, 2010).

Biofuel from Algae
Biofuel is defined as fuels in solid, liquid, or gas form predominantly produced from biorenewable feedstock (Demirbas, 2010). Microalgae are one of the breakthrough raw materials utilized for the production of third generation biofuels (Brennan and Owende, 2009). These are photosynthetic microorganisms which require simple growing requirements such as light, carbohydrates, carbon dioxide, and minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (Brennan and Owende, 2009). Microalgae produce lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates during photosynthesis in large amounts in just a short period of time which can be processed into both biofuel and viable co-products (Brennan and Owende, 2009). Several companies in the United States have started conducting researches on producing commercial-scale amounts of biofuel from...
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