Algal biomass

Algal Biomass

Results: Canada and the United States signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the National Research Council Canada and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory in February of 2010. The Agreement outlined collaboration to improve the methods of cultivating algae for biofuel production. The project continued under Action Plan II.

A binational workshop was held in March 2010 and a series of research achievements took place over the course of Action Plan I including:

  • The isolation of algal strains from aquatic environments (March 2010)
  • The sampling of algal species from northern locations (March 2010)
  • The cultivation and lipid analysis of algae isolates (June 2010)
  • The gathering, integration and analysis of Geographic
  • Information System (GIS) data (begun in 2010 and ongoing)
  • Techno-Economic modeling and analysis (begun in 2010 and ongoing)

I. Overview

Algae are a renewable biological resource which can be grown using sunlight and waste carbon dioxide and do not require potable water or the use of land that could otherwise be utilized for agricultural production. Algae represent an innovative means to sequester industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, thus reducing greenhouse gases (GHG), while producing sustainable biofuels. Algae show great promise for decarbonizing energy for two reasons. First, growing algae requires CO2, which can be captured from the combustion of fossil fuels, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Second, algae can be used as a feedstock for producing sustainable biofuels.

Under Action Plan I, Canada and the United States signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the National Research Council Canada and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory in February of 2010. The Agreement outlined collaboration to improve the methods of cultivating algae for biofuel production. A Binational workshop was held in March of 2010 and a series of research achievements took place over the course of Action Plan I (see Milestones).

The collaborative work resulted in a leveraging of complementary expertise and capabilities of Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) and the United States’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). By working together, the approach in both countries has been harmonized through standardizing the methodologies for measuring the impacts and benefits of algae derived fuels, which is beneficial for aligned regulatory development and life-cycle analysis.

II. Project Description

The goal of this project was to accelerate the development of technologies required to achieve the commercial production of environmentally sustainable algal biofuels. This project was the first phase of a multi-year research and demonstration program, which is ultimately expected to include the deployment and operation of an algal biofuel production facility coupled to a coal-fired power generating station.

This preliminary phase was joint research focused on identifying and assessing the performance of newly isolated North American strains of algae, cultivating the algae using CO2 from combustion gases, and developing a Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify potential sites in North America for algal biomass production using these domestic strains.

III. Project Duration

The work began with the signing of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) in February of 2010 and some aspects continuing into the second phase of the Clean Energy Dialogue. See activities under Action Plan II.

IV. Partners/Participants

Government

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada1
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Environment Canada
  • Institute for Marine Biosciences, National Research Council of Canada1
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (United States)1
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (United States)
  • Sandia National Laboratories (United States)1
  • U.S. Department of Energy

1Indicates lead departments/agencies

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