algal biomass

Johannes Skarka, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Algae have one of the highest potential for large scale production of biofuels and other bioproducts. Nevertheless, there are still limiting factors to just how much biomass can be produced. Johannes Skarka from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany has conducted some research on how land and CO2 availability will affect the algae industry in Europe.

Below is Skarka’s description of his work followed by a PDF file which contains a map with the cost of growing biomass at various sites in Europe.

“Microalgae are seen as a promising source for sustainable biofuels since they can be cultivated in photobioreactors on non-arable land and thus reduce the fuel vs. food dilemma. Furthermore they can use CO2 from industrial and power plants. However, in Europe most areas suitable for microalgae production are not located in the direct vicinity of these CO2 sources. Thus, the application of CO2 from fuel gas in algaefuel production requires a transmission infrastructure.

“Against this background a GIS-based model including pipeline transport of CO2 and land availability was developed at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) to determine the microalgal biomass production potential at site-specific costs. The results show a total potential of 45 Mt in the EU-27 for sites with biomass costs less than 2,000 US$/t on a dry matter basis. Most of the potential can be found in the southern part of Europe, particularly on the Iberian Peninsula. Assuming an oil content of 50 % of the algal biomass and by considering a correction factor for the consequent lower biomass productivity, a considerable potential of 22 % of the EU-27’s jet fuel demand could be provided by microalgae derived biofuels.”

Johannes Skarka
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Check out his work here:

Microalgal biomass for biofuels in Europe


Bodega Algae, LLC, (Bodega) is a developer of scalable algae photobioreactors. The closed continuous-flow reactors produce high-energy algal biomass for use in the production of biofuel.

The Bodega photobioreactor is modular and stackable, allowing it to be co-located efficiently on the premises of industrial plants. The reactor uses nutrients readily drawn from a variety of waste streams. Sources for nutrients include wastewater from domestic sewage, municipal water treatment plants or carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) flue gases from industrial plants. The microalgae in the bioreactor converts these compounds to biomass, creating the feedstock for biofuel while improving the environment.

Microalgae has significant advantages when compared to conventional oil crop feedstocks. Algae produces over twenty times the amount of biofuel than soybeans on an equal amount of land due to rapid growth rates and high concentrations of lipids per cell density. In contrast to soybeans and other oil crops, the modest agricultural and resource requirements of microalgae make it an attractive low-cost alternative feedstock. Estimates indicate that algae grown in large volumes could reduce the cost of manufacturing a gallon of biodiesel by half of current rates. Lower costs and greater energy yield will make biofuels economically competitive with petro-fuels.