Algae for Fuels Pilot Project
U of MN
Biomass energy is a viable alternative to fossil based energy supplies. However, significant advances in biomass energy technologies have encountered economic, ecological, and policy concerns, including feed stock procurement, energy balance, carbon footprint, competition for food and fuel, water use, etc. The University of Minnesota will partner with the Metropolitan Council Environment Services (MCES) to demonstrate “Algae to Fuels” technology. This project advances our existing collaborative R&D partnership, and will demonstrate an innovative photosynthetic algae production system which simultaneously produces high lipid oil for bio-fuel production, captures and recycles N and P from waste water, and sequester CO2. The GOAL of the project is to develop, build, and test a pilot scale algae production system that will treat concentrated wastewater and animal facility wastewater and generate algal biomass. The facility will be located at the UMN St. Paul campus greenhouse facilities (alternative sites are U MN Rosemount Research and Outreach Center and MCES Metro waste water treatment facility, pending on the additional funding we are seeking from MCES and UMN, see project strategy section for more information.) The harvested algae will be converted into biofuels. The project is expected to improve water quality, minimizing freshwater and land use, reducing carbon emission, capture and recycling of plant nutrients, and producing clean, green energy. With further R&D efforts, the technology can potentially be implemented at other wastewater treatment facilities, and adapted to other waste streams (livestock waste, food production wastes) in the long term. The knowledge gained will be documented and disseminated to the public and academic communities. The system will also be used for field demonstration and publicized through various educational outreach and communication activities.