Advertisement

Newsroom

Micro-algae could revolutionise biofuel production

The South Australian Research and Development Institute will lead a major research program into the cultivation of micro-algae for biodiesel production.

July 27, 2006

The South Australian Research and Development Institute will lead a major research program into the cultivation of micro-algae for biodiesel production.

A $348,000 Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) grant to Australian Renewable Fuels Limited (ARF) announced today by the Australian Government will fund part of SARDI’s new $950,000 research program into the development of micro-algae as a biodiesel feedstock.

Executive Director of SARDI, Dr Rob Lewis, says SARDI’s collaborative program with Australian Renewable Fuels opens the door to a major new industry for South Australia.

“The successful development of micro-algae for biodiesel production offers a golden opportunity for a new multi-million dollar industry in this State. It also offers a significant alternative feedstock that has the potential to dramatically boost the production of biodiesel and greatly expand the fledgling industry,” said Dr Lewis.

“There are significant environmental benefits in using biodiesel fuels which are produced from renewable resources. The use of micro-algae for biodiesel in itself is particularly attractive because it is up to 30 times more efficient in producing oil for biodiesel compared to conventional methods, and micro-algae can be cultured in poor quality salty water or nutrient loaded water.”

SARDI Biofuels Group leader, Dr Kevin Williams, says SARDI is working with ARF to research and develop new and improved feedstocks for biofuel production from micro-algae, as well as from crops such as canola and mustard.

“Part of our micro-algae research, funded by the Centre for Natural Resource Management, will identify and select species of micro-algae with rapid growth and high oil yields. Work funded by the REDI grant will focus on the development of culture systems to produce the micro-algae. A proposed third phase will be the establishment and evaluation of demonstration farms that may use water from the River Murray salt interception schemes, or nutrient-laden estuaries.”


Key facts:

Micro-algae are single celled microscopic organisms which, like plants, use photosynthesis to convert the sun’s energy into chemical energy.

Microalgae can be grown in large vats (bioreactors) that provide the algae with all the needs to maximise growth and oil production.

Micro-algae are much more efficient converters of solar energy than any known terrestrial plant, because they grow in suspension where they have unlimited access to water and more efficient access to CO2 and dissolved nutrients.

The total oil content in algae can be up to 60 to 70% of their dry weight.

Micro-algae are capable of producing more than 30 times the amount of oil (per year per unit area of land) when compared to terrestrial oil seed crops.

Biodiesel is a natural and renewable fuel alternative for diesel engines.

Biodiesel contains no petroleum, is non toxic and biodegradable.

Advertisement

Latest Magazine

Event news