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Algal Production for Biogas Electricity

Methane and power produced in anaerobic digestion facilities can be utilized to replace
energy derived from fossil fuels, and hence reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses.
This is due to the fact that the carbon in biodegradable material such as algae is part of
a carbon cycle. The carbon released into the atmosphere from the combustion of biogas
has been removed by plants in order for them to grow in the recent past. This can have
occurred within the last decade, but more typically within the last growing season. If the
plants are re-grown, taking the carbon out of the atmosphere once more, the system will
be carbon neutral. This contrasts to carbon in fossil fuels that has been sequestered in
the earth for many millions of years, the combustion of which increases the overall
levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Biogas plants consist of two components: a digester (or fermentation tank) and a gas
holder. The digester is a cube-shaped or cylindrical waterproof container with an inlet
into which the fermentable mixture is introduced in the form of a liquid slurry. The gas
holder is normally an airproof steel container that, by floating like a ball on the
fermentation mix, cuts off air to the digester (anaerobiosis) and collects the gas
generated. In one of the most widely used designs (Figure 2), the gas holder is
equipped with a gas outlet, while the digester is provided with an overflow pipe to lead
the sludge out into a drainage pit.

The average cost of a digester is nearly $1.5 million, and it takes about six years to earn
back that original investment without any grants.

Creation of biogas
Biogas is a product of the metabolism of methane bacteria and is created when the
bacteria degrade a mass of organic material. The methane bacteria can only work and
reproduce if the substrate is sufficiently bloated with water (at least 50 %). In contrast to
aerobic bacteria, yeasts and fungi they cannot exist in a solid phase.
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Exclusion of air
These micro-organisms are strongly anaerobic. If the substrate still contains oxygen, as
for example is the case with liquid manure, then aerobic bacteria must use this up first.
This happens during the first phase of the biogas process. Low quantities of oxygen,
such as occur through the deliberate aeration of air in order to desulphurise the
material, do not cause any harm.

Temperature
The working range of the methane bacteria lies between 0 and 70°C. At higher
temperatures they are killed off, with the exception of a few strains which can survive in
temperatures up to 90°C. The speed of the decomposition process is heavily dependent
on temperature. The following applies: the higher the temperature, decomposition
occurs more quickly, the production of gas is higher, the decomposition time is shorter
and the content of methane in the biogas is lower.
Practical experience has shown that there are typical temperature ranges in which
particular strains of bacteria feel quite comfortable:
mesophile strains at temperatures of 25-35°C
thermophile strains at temperatures above 45°C
The higher the temperature, the more sensitive the bacteria are to temperature
variations, especially when these occur for a short time and the temperature drops.
Whilst in the mesophile range daily variations of from 2 to 3°C about the medium can
still be supported, for the thermophile range these variations should not be more than
1°C. Over longer periods of time (around 1 month) the bacteria become accustomed to
new temperature ranges.
The pH value The pH value should be in the weakly alkaline range of about 7.5. For
liquid manure and dung this range usually occurs naturally during the second phase of
the decomposition process, as a result of the creation of ammonium. For more acidic
substrates such as slop, whey and silage it may be necessary to add lime in order to
increase the pH value.

Supply of nutrients
Methane bacteria cannot break down fats, protein, carbohydrate (starch, sugar) and
cellulose in pure form. In fact they need soluble nitrogen compounds, minerals and
trace elements to break down the cellular mass of these materials. Sufficient quantities
of these substances are present in dung and liquid manure. But Algae Biomass and
grass too (in fresh and preserved form) as also marc, slop and whey contain sufficient
total nutrients and can in principle be broken down alone. In practice however it is
recommended that dung and liquid manure are used as a stable basic substrate and
additional amounts of the materials referred to are added, so as to avoid segregation
and to achieve a good buffering of acids and lyes.
Stages

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The key process stages of anaerobic digestion there are four key biological and
chemical stages of anaerobic digestion:
1. Hydrolysis
2. Acidogenesis
3. Acetogenesis
4. Methanogenesis
In most cases biomass is made up of large organic polymers. In order for the bacteria in
anaerobic digesters to access the energy potential of the material, these chains must
first be broken down into their smaller constituent parts. These constituent parts or
monomers such as sugars are readily available by other bacteria. The process of
breaking these chains and dissolving the smaller molecules into solution is called
hydrolysis. Therefore hydrolysis of these high molecular weight polymeric components
is the necessary first step in anaerobic digestion. Through hydrolysis the complex
organic molecules are broken down into simple sugars amino acids, and fatty acids.
Acetate and hydrogen produced in the first stages can be used directly by
methanogens. Other molecules such as volatile fatty acids (VFA’s) with a chain length
that is greater than acetate must first be catabolised into compounds that can be directly
utilized by methanogens.
Digestate is the solid remnants of the original input material to the digesters that the
microbes cannot use. It also consists of the mineralized remains of the dead bacteria
from within the digesters. Digestate can come in three forms; fibrous, liquor or a sludge-
based combination of the two fractions. In two-stage systems the different forms of
digestate come from different digestion tanks. In single stage digestion systems the two
fractions will be combined and if desired separated by further processing.
Digestate liquor can be used as a fertilizer supplying vital nutrients to soils. The solid,
fibrous component of digestate can be used as a soil conditioner. The liquor can be
used as a substitute for chemical fertilizers which require large amounts of energy to
produce and transport. The use of manufactured fertilizers is therefore more carbon
intensive than the use of anaerobic digestate fertilizer. This solid digestate can be used
to boost the organic content of soils. There are some countries, such as Turkey where
there are many organically depleted soils, and here the markets for the digestate can be
just as important as the biogas.
In countries that collect household waste, the utilization of local anaerobic digestion
facilities can help to reduce the amount of waste that requires transportation to
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centralized landfill sites or incineration facilities. This reduced burden on transportation
has and will reduce carbon emissions from the collection vehicles. If localized anaerobic
digestion facilities are embedded within an electrical distribution network, they can help
reduce the electrical losses that are associated with transporting electricity over a
national grid.

The second by-product (acidogenic digestate) is a stable organic material comprised


largely of lignin and cellulose, but also of a variety of mineral components in a matrix of
dead bacterial cells; some plastic may be present. The material resembles domestic
compost and can be used as compost or to make low grade building products such as
fibreboard.
The third by-product is a liquid (methanogenic digestate) that is rich in nutrients and
can be used as a fertilizer dependent on the quality of the material being digested.
Levels of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) should be chemically assessed. This will be
dependent upon the quality of the original feedstock. In the case of most clean and
source-separated biodegradable waste streams the levels of PTEs will be low. In the
case of wastes originating from industry the levels of PTEs may be higher and will need
to be taken into consideration when determining a suitable end use for the material.
Digestate typically contains elements such as lignin that cannot be broken down by the
anaerobic microorganisms. Also the digestate may contain ammonia that is phytotoxic
and will hamper the growth of plants if it is used as a soil improving material. For these
two reasons a maturation or composting stage may be employed after digestion. Lignin
and other materials are available for degradation by aerobic microorganisms such as
fungi helping reduce the overall volume of the material for transport. During this
maturation the ammonia will be broken down into nitrates, improving the fertility of the
material and making it more suitable as a soil improver. Large composting stages are
typically used by dry anaerobic digestion technologies.
Wastewater
The final output from anaerobic digestion systems is water.
Algae Biomass Production for Biogas

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Algae as Biogas resource. Algae as electricity is another resource derived from algal
biomass.

This is not Rocket Science (here’s the layman's explanation)


Algae is a single cell organism

Algae feeds on the Hydrogen from the H2O and the Carbon from the CO2 and
through the process of photosynthesis produces Hydrocarbon Chains and releases
Oxygen. Most strains of the Green and Green-Blue Algae can double their mass
every 24hour growing cycle. Different strains of Algae produce Algae Oil with slightly
different hydrocarbon chains

Microalgae have much faster growth-rates than terrestrial crops. The per unit area
yield of oil from algae is estimated to be from between 2,000 to 20,000 gallons per
acre, per year(4.6 to 18.4 l/m2 per year); this is 7 to 30 times greater than the next
best crop, Chinese tallow (699 gallons).

Studies show that algae can produce up to 60% of their biomass in the form of oil.
Because the cells grow in aqueous suspension where they have more efficient
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access to water, CO2 and dissolved nutrients, microalgae are capable of producing
large amounts of biomass and usable oil in either high rate algal ponds or
photobioreactors. This oil can then be turned into biodiesel which could be sold for
use in automobiles. The biomass (algae cake) can be used for biogas production
into methane to generate electricity. The more efficient this process becomes the
larger the profit that is turned by the company. Regional production of microalgae
and processing into biofuels will provide economic benefits to rural communities.

Biobutanol

Butanol can be made from algae using only a solar powered biorefinery. This fuel
has an energy density similar to gasoline, and greater than that of either ethanol or
methanol. In most gasoline engines, butanol can be used in place of gasoline with
no modifications. In several tests, butanol consumption is similar to that of gasoline,
and when blended with gasoline, provides better performance and corrosion
resistance than that of ethanol.

The green waste left over from the algae oil extraction can be used to produce
butanol.

Biogasoline

Jet Fuel is being made from algae oil currently.

“Flare Test”-Establish that fuel combusts, not explodes.

“Can Combustor Test”-Fuel is compatible with basic jet technology.

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Algae seems to hold the most promise to meet many needs to include methane
gas production for electricity.

Algae Desirable Characteristics:

• Easy to grow

• Grow anywhere

• High yield per acre

• Not used for Human or Animal Consumption

• Environmentally friendly

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Algae remove massive amounts of CO2 (Carbon dioxide) from the air. Algae farms are
glutton eaters of CO2 gas providing a means for recycling waste carbon dioxide from
fossil fuel combustion. It is possible to sequester as much as one billion tons of CO2 per
year from algae farms. The United States has one energy plant that produces 25.3
million tons of CO2 by itself. This technology has attracted companies that need
inexpensive CO2 sequestration solutions & renewable energy solutions.

The combination of algae production & methane biogas is a green way to create
endless renewable clean energy for many cities and industries.

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