Cost-Effective Algae Biomass Production for Oil integrated with Wastewater Treatment and Valued By-Product

EPA Contract Number: EPD11036
Title: Cost-Effective Algae Biomass Production for Oil integrated with Wastewater Treatment and Valued By-Product
Investigators: Dahiya, Anju
Small Business: General Systems Research LLC
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through August 31, 2011
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Biofuels , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


This project addresses challenges in algae biomass production for cost-competitive biofuel production. A critical hurdle in terms of large-scale biomass production and a big economic barrier in the production of algae oil is the cost-efficiency involved in producing algae biomass. The principal objective of this project is to demonstrate that a low-cost algal biomass production for oil is possible by integrating the system with wastewater treatment such as dairy farm manure, brewery wastewaters, and producing valued by-products such as feedstock for biogas. The nutrient-rich wastewater from biodigesters for farm runoff is mostly organic material that algae can digest and utilize the nutrients (mainly nitrogen and phosphorus), which otherwise is a threat to natural water bodies. To grow oil-rich algae in such a media could be a challenge, however, and no robust system exists. Unlike expensive algal closed systems (photobioreactors) under research, General Systems Research's system will be based on establishing a symbiotic relation between oil-rich algae and bacterial system in open ponds. General Systems Research will test natural algal assemblage, oil-rich algal strain(s), and a well known strain of Chlorella vulgaris in dairy farm and brewery wastewaters. The harvest will be tested for oil lipids contents, and the water quality parameters, including nutrient concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, will be analyzed at the Agricultural Lab at UVM. The algae cake left after oil extraction will be assessed for its possible use as commercial organic fertilizer. In the United States, diesel fuel demand is growing annually. By initiating a process for commercially viable algal production, this Phase I offers a broad and significant impact on quality of life and environment by moving the energy, the wastewater treatment and rural sectors forward. Publications, presentations, and interdisciplinary collaborations are anticipated.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report