BOX 2-2
Research and Development for Enhancing Algal Biofuel Production

Research and development directed at domestication of algae for biofuel production is vitally important.

This effort will require improving the functional understanding of the biology, physiology, and ecology of microalgae. This upstream research and development will help inform and guide downstream engineering methods and designs for cultivation and processing systems that will enhance the entire algal biofuel production chain. Thus, concerted, complementary efforts in algal domestication and biofuel production will include:

•  Development of strategies to improve carbon fixation rates and yields of algal crops at commercial production-level scale.

•  Development of algal strains or multi-species assemblages that achieve high productivity and high volumetric concentrations over a wide range of environmental conditions (including variations in temperature and light levels) and are as easily harvested and processed as possible.

•  Evaluation and development of improved crop protection methods.

•  Design and development of robust, low-cost, long-lasting production systems for algal strains or multi-species assemblages that demand minimal regulations and control of environmental parameters.

•  Development of strains that excrete oil or other fuel precursors, especially immiscible products.

•  Development of improved harvest technologies that reduce energy required during collecting and processing.

•  Design and development of integrated biological and engineering production strategies that obviate algae harvesting, drying, and oil-extraction processes.

•  Design and development of integrated biological and engineering production strategies that continually reuse the algae, water, and nutrients.

•  Design and development of systems that can process whole biomass into fuels.


Algal strain development is needed to enhance traits that contribute to increasing fuel production per unit resource use, reducing the environmental effects per unit fuel produced, and enhancing economic viability. Improvements in biomass or product (lipid, alcohol, or hydrocarbons) yield, culture density, nutrient uptake, ease of harvest, and photosynthetic efficiency are some of the improvements that would improve sustainability of algal biofuels.


81st Texas Legislature House Bill 3391, Bill introduced by the Texas House of Representatives relating to the continuation and functions of the Parks and Wildlife Department; changing the elements of an offense. § Chapter 952. (Regular Session, June 19, 2009).

Acién Fernández, F.G., J.M. Fernández Sevilla, J.A. Sánchez Pérez, E. Molina Grima, and Y. Chisti. 2001. Airliftdriven external-loop tubular photobioreactors for outdoor production of microalgae: Assessment of design and performance. Chemical Engineering Science 56(8):2721-2732.

Algae Energy. 2012a. Open cultivation system for growing algae. Available online at Accessed May 15, 2012.

____________. 2012b. Photobioreactors. Available online at Accessed May 15, 2012.

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