Algae’ farming for oil is the next biggest opportunity for the Biofuel industry. Algae, like corn, soybeans, sugar cane, Jatropha, and other plants, use photosynthesis to convert solar energy into chemical energy. They store this energy in the form of oils, carbohydrates, and proteins. The plant oil can be converted to biodiesel; hence biodiesel is a form of solar energy. The more efficient a particular plant is at converting that solar energy into chemical energy, the better it is from a biodiesel perspective, and algae are among the most photosynthetically efficient plants on earth. Algae productivity is dependent on carbon intake, as carbon constitutes over 50% by weight of Algae Biomass. Algae can consume high concentrations of CO2 (between 5-30%) as it is emitted from power, cement and chemical plants before it is absorbed into the atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2, at less than 0.04%, need to be supplemented with additional CO2 to deliver high productivities. Micro algae to be used as biofuel are selected based on a number of factors, most notably high innate growth rates, favorable overall composition (lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins), and ability to grow in specific climatic conditions.
An algae farm is designed to produce a number of products including algal oil, delipidated algal meal (DAM) and dried whole algae (DWA). The algal oil is suitable for conversion to biodiesel and can be substituted for any other vegetable oil (soy, palm, Jatropha) in a commercial biodiesel production plant. The DAM and DWA are suitable for a wide variety of animal feed applications. The algae meal has a high protein content compared to other animal feed product such as dried distiller’s grains from ethanol production or soy meal after oil removal.