Fuel from Algae

Algaeventure Systems (AVS)
Scaling and Commercialization of Algae Harvesting Technologies
Graphic of AlgaeVenture's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$5,992,676
Location: 
Marysville, OH
Project Term: 
01/15/2010 to 01/31/2012
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
The U.S. relies almost exclusively on petroleum-based fuels to power its cars, trucks, and planes. Fossil fuels like petroleum produce harmful emissions, and they're subject to price instabilities that impact consumers. Domestically produced biofuels are a promising alternative. However, the methods used to convert algae into fuel are currently too costly and inefficient to make algae-based biofuels a commercially viable alternative to fossil fuels.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Led by CEO Ross Youngs, AVS has patented a cost-effective dewatering technology that separates micro-solids (algae) from water. Separating micro-solids from water traditionally requires a centrifuge, which uses significant energy to spin the water mass and force materials of different densities to separate from one another. In a comparative analysis, dewatering 1 ton of algae in a centrifuge costs around $3,400. AVS's Solid-Liquid Separation (SLS) system is less energy-intensive and less expensive, costing $1.92 to process 1 ton of algae. The SLS technology uses capillary dewatering with filter media to gently facilitate water separation, leaving behind dewatered algae which can then be used as a source for biofuels and bio-products. The biomimicry of the SLS technology emulates the way plants absorb and spread water to their capillaries.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, AVS would significantly decrease the production cost of biofuels made from algae.
Security: 
Increasing production of domestic biofuels could help the U.S. cut foreign oil imports by 33% in 15 years.
Environment: 
Widespread use of biofuels, biopower, and other bio-based products has the potential to conserve 1.26 billion barrels of oil, 58 million tons of coal, and 682 million tons of carbon dioxide from 2020-2030.
Economy: 
Widespread use of biofuels would help reduce and stabilize gas prices for consumers.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Jonathan Burbaum
Project Contact: 
Mr. Ross Youngs
Partners
Case Western Reserve University
Ohio University