Fuel from Algae
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, Algaeventure Systems (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.
If successful, AVS would significantly decrease the production cost of biofuels made from algae.
Increasing production of domestic biofuels could help the U.S. cut foreign oil imports by 33% in 15 years.
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.
Widespread use of biofuels would help reduce and stabilize gas prices for consumers.
ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jonathan BurbaumProject Contact:
Mr. Ross Youngs
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.govProject Contact Email:
Case Western Reserve University