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Committee on the Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources Division on Earth and Life Studies Board on Energy and Environmental Systems Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract/Grant No. DE-DT0001899 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 13: 978-0-309-26032-9 International Standard Book Number 10: 0-309-26032-9 Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu/. Cover: Design by Anne Rogers. Photo courtesy of Sammy Boussiba, J. Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Sde-Boker. Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal govern- ment on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its ad- ministration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also spon- sors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertain- ing to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Acad- emy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to as- sociate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the Na- tional Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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COMMITTEE ON THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF ALGAL BIOFUELS JENNIE C. HUNTER-CEVERA, Chair, Hunter and Associates, Ellicott City, Maryland SAMMY BOUSSIBA, J. Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Sde-Boker JOEL L. CUELLO, The University of Arizona, Tucson CLIFFORD S. DUKE, Ecological Society of America, Washington, DC REBECCA A. EFROYMSON, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee SUSAN S. GOLDEN, University of California, San Diego JENNIFER HOLMGREN, Lanzatech, Roselle, Illinois DONALD L. JOHNSON, Grain-Processing Corporation (retired), Muscatine, Iowa MARK E. JONES, The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan VAL H. SMITH, The University of Kansas, Lawrence CAI STEGER, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York GREGORY N. STEPHANAPOULOS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts LARRY P. WALKER, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York ERIC WILLIAMS, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York PAUL V. ZIMBA, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi Staff EVONNE P.Y. TANG, Study Codirector K. JOHN HOLMES, Study Codirector RUTH S. ARIETI, Research Associate KATHLEEN REIMER, Senior Program Assistant ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director JAMES ZUCCHETTO, Director v
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BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES NORMAN R. SCOTT, Chair, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (Emeritus) PEGGY F. BARLETT, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia HAROLD L. BERGMAN, University of Wyoming, Laramie RICHARD A. DIXON, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Oklahoma DANIEL M. DOOLEY, University of California, Oakland JOAN H. EISEMANN, North Carolina State University, Raleigh GARY F. HARTNELL, Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Missouri GENE HUGOSON, Global Initiatives for Food Systems Leadership, St. Paul, Minnesota MOLLY M. JAHN, University of Wisconsin-Madison ROBBIN S. JOHNSON, Cargill Foundation, Wayzata, Minnesota A.G. KAWAMURA, Solutions from the Land, Washington, DC JULIA L. KORNEGAY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh KIRK C. KLASING, University of California, Davis VICTOR L. LECHTENBERG, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana PHILIP E. NELSON, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana KEITH PITTS, Marrone Bio Innovations, Davis, California CHARLES W. RICE, Kansas State University, Manhattan HAL SALWASSER, Oregon State University, Corvallis ROGER A. SEDJO, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC KATHLEEN SEGERSON, University of Connecticut, Storrs MERCEDES VAZQUEZ-A—ON, Novus International, Inc., St. Charles, Missouri Staff ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director CAMILLA YANDOC ABLES, Program Officer RUTH S. ARIETI, Research Associate KAREN L. IMHOF, Administrative Coordinator KARA N. LANEY, Program Officer JANET M. MULLIGAN, Senior Program Associate for Research KATHLEEN REIMER, Senior Program Assistant EVONNE P.Y. TANG, Senior Program Officer PEGGY TSAI, Program Officer vi
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BOARD ON ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS ANDREW BROWN, JR., Chair, Delphi Corporation, Troy, Michigan WILLIAM F. BANHOLZER, The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan MARILYN BROWN, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta WILLIAM CAVANAUGH III, Progress Energy (retired), Raleigh, North Carolina PAUL DeCOTIS, Long Island Power Authority, Albany, New York CHRISTINE EHLIG-ECONOMIDES, Texas A&M University, College Station SHERRI GOODMAN, CNA, Alexandria, Virginia NARAIN HINGORANI, Independent Consultant, Los Altos Hills, California ROBERT HUGGETT, Independent Consultant, Seaford, Virginia DEBBIE NIEMEIER, University of California, Davis DANIEL NOCERA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, Princeton University, New Jersey DAN REICHER, Stanford University, California BERNARD ROBERTSON, Daimler-Chrysler (retired), Bloomfield Hills, Michigan GARY ROGERS, FEV, Inc, Auburn Hills, Michigan ALISON SILVERSTEIN, Consultant, Pflugerville, Texas MARK THIEMENS, University of California, San Diego RICHARD WHITE, Oppenheimer & Company, New York City Staff JAMES ZUCCHETTO, Director DANA CAINES, Financial Associate ALAN CRANE, Senior Program Officer K. JOHN HOLMES, Senior Program Officer LANITA JONES, Administrative Coordinator ALICE WILLIAMS, Senior Program Assistant JONATHAN YANGER, Senior Project Assistant vii
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Preface T he desire to develop energy sources that can provide greater environmental and secu- rity benefits has spurred research and investments in the development of alternatives to petroleum, the dominant source of liquid transportation fuels. Because of its high biomass (and oil productivity in some cases), algae and cyanobacteria (commonly referred to as blue-green algae) frequently have been considered a promising renewable feedstock for fuel production. We all were taught that petroleum and other fossil fuels formed on this planet from plant remains that were compressed for millions of years at high temperatures. It seems fitting that scientists would choose to study some of the most primitive life forms to develop large-scale biofuel replacements for such fossil fuels. Algae have been grown under a variety of conditions for the production of lipids and high-value products for sev- eral decades. Two factors that influenced the consideration of algal biofuel production in the past were the cost of a barrel of oil and the ability to cultivate algae and process them into transportation fuel at a reasonable cost. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had a robust program to develop biofuels from algae from 1978 to 1996, when it was concluded that algal biofuel would not be cost competitive with petroleum soon. Fast forward to 2012, and with advances in genetics and engineering, we are back to the future in considering whether algae can be an economic and sustainable alternative source of liquid transporta- tion fuels. Could it be that use of algae to produce biofuels is the answer to becoming less dependent on foreign oil? At the request of DOE, the National Research Council (NRC) appointed a committee of 15 experts with diverse backgrounds and experience to examine the sustainability of algal biofuels. The committee reviewed many scientific papers and government and industry reports, and listened first hand to company representatives, academic experts, and govern- ment agency program managers who deal with production of algal biofuels. The committee also met three times and held regularly scheduled conference calls to deliberate and reach agreement as to how to best address the charge from DOE to identify potential sustainability concerns, mitigate environmental concerns, and identify indicators of sustainability and metrics that could be used to monitor progress as the technology advances on several fronts. ix
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xPREFACE In its consideration of the task, the committee examined the algal biofuel supply chain from the characteristics of the species to the methods for cultivation and processing into fuels. It separated the potential pathways for deployment into four basic scenarios and used those scenarios to help assess the resource needs and environmental concerns result- ing from the location and design of large-scale production. The outcome of the current knowledge available through literature and discussion by the committee is this report on sustainable development of algal biofuels. This report does not address economic analyses or comparative life-cycle analyses. However, it provides a framework for assessing sustain- ability as the DOE continues to invest in algal biofuel research and development. I thank the committee members and NRC staff for the very stimulating and thought- provoking dialogue and for their many contributions to the writing of this report. Jennie C. Hunter-Cevera Chair, Committee on Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels
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Acknowledgments T his report has been reviewed in draft form by persons chosen for their diverse per- spectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this inde- pendent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following for their review of this report: Brenda Little, Naval Research Laboratory James R. Katzer, Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Company (retired) Qiang Hu, Arizona State University Paul DeCotis, Long Island Power Authority Andres Clarens, University of Virginia Paul Roessler, Algenol, LLC Amha Belay, Earthrise Nutritional, LLC LaReesa Wolfenbarger, University of Nebraska, Omaha Jason Hill, University of Minnesota Tryg Lundquist, California Polytechnic State Institute Christopher R. Somerville, University of California, Berkeley, and Energy Biosciences Institute Robert Haselkorn, University of Chicago Barry Solomon, Michigan Technology University Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen xi
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xiiACKNOWLEDGMENTS by coordinator, George M. Hornberger, appointed by the Division of Earth and Life Stud- ies, and monitor, Mark R. Cullen, appointed by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The coordinator and monitor were responsible for making certain that an independent exami- nation of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author committee and the institution.
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Contents SUMMARY1 1 INTRODUCTION11 Interest in Algal Biofuels, 11 Sustainable Development of Biofuels, 13 Tools and Methodologies for Assessing Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels, 17 Study Scope and Approach, 22 Structure of Report, 23 References, 23 2 OVERVIEW OF ALGAL BIOFUEL SUPPLY CHAIN 27 Algal Feedstocks, 27 Cultivation, 41 Processing Algal Biomass into Fuels, 58 Conclusions, 64 References, 66 3 PATHWAYS FOR ALGAL BIOFUEL PRODUCTION 77 Features of Biofuel Pathways, 78 Reference Pathway≠Raceway Pond Producing Drop-in Hydrocarbon, 80 Alternative Pathway #1≠Raceway Pond Producing Drop-in Hydrocarbon and Coproducts, 83 Alternative Pathway #2≠Raceway Pond Producing FAME, 86 Alternative Pathway #3≠Photobioreactors with Direct Synthesis of Ethanol, 88 Alternative Pathway #4≠Whole-Cell Processing, 92 Other Potential Pathways, 95 xiii
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xivCONTENTS Summary, 96 References, 96 4 NATURAL RESOURCE USE 99 Water, 100 Nutrients, 110 Land, 117 Energy, 126 Conclusions, 131 References, 133 5 ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS 139 Water Quality, 140 Land-Use Change, 147 Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, 151 Local Climate, 154 Air Quality, 154 Species Invasiveness and Aquatic Biodiversity, 159 Terrestrial Biodiversity, 164 Environmental Effects of Genetically Engineered Organisms, 168 Waste Products, 172 Pathogens and Toxins, 174 Mosquito-Borne Diseases, 177 Conclusions, 178 References, 180 6A FRAMEWORK TO ASSESS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF ALGAL BIOFUELS 191 Summary of Resource Use and Environmental Effects of Different Algal Biofuel Production Pathways, 192 Tools for Assessing Overall Sustainability, 194 Framework for Integrated Assessment, 199 Opportunities for Algal Biofuels to Improve Sustainability, 203 References, 204 APPENDIXES A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 209 B Statement of Task 215 C Presentations to the Committee 217 DGlossary 221 E Select Acronyms and Abbreviations 223 F Conversion Factors 225 G Economics of Coproduct Production from Large-Scale Algal Biofuel Systems 227