Algal Biofuels Strategy Workshops

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Collage of algae images and algae workshops.

To enhance its algae portfolio and engage key stakeholders, the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) regularly hosts algal biofuels strategy workshops to discuss research and development needed to achieve affordable, scalable, and sustainable algae-based biofuels. Subscribe to the BETO newsletter and e-blasts to receive information on these and other bioenergy events.

Advanced Algal Systems Listening Session

On June 13, 2018, BETO hosted the Advanced Algal Systems Listening Session in Seattle, Washington. BETO gathered feedback from experts in algal biology, cultivation, and conversion on how to address near-term research and development barriers and opportunities for cost-competitive algal biofuels and bioproducts. The agenda focused on opportunities and challenges in integrating algal productivity and biomass yield improvements in scalable algae cultivation systems to achieve high yields.

Key takeaways from participants include:

  • Translating bench-scale research to outdoor cultivation practices is a challenge​ 
    • It is important to determine the proper scale for testing cultivation scenarios to ensure research has meaningful commercial applications. For example, there is a need to better predict pond crashes before going into 4-acre ponds.
    • Outdoor trials of genetically modified algal strains have had significant commercial implications.
    • One strategy to avoid the challenges of mimicking outdoor conditions in the laboratory (light, culture density, oxygen levels, and mixing) is to instead select a strain that is high performing outdoors and then bring it into the laboratory for improvement.
  • Improving productivity requires efficiency and integration of operations, not just biological strategies
    • Managing cultivation ecology and contamination is crucial to reducing culture crashes.
    • Harvesting, processing, and storage are more difficult at commercially relevant scales. Developers need to consider the complexity of having large-scale harvesting, processing, and storage strategies that can adjust to variable productivity throughout the year.
  • Incorporating practices from agriculture and aquaculture is an opportunity
    • Agriculture and aquaculture industries have strategies for automating logistics, forecasting weather events, and designing systems to keep products fresh, which could be applied by the algae industry.
    • Algae companies must demonstrate their product’s value and develop a strategy to present that value to investors, customers, and consumers.

Algae Cultivation for Carbon Capture and Utilization Workshop

BETO hosted the Algae Cultivation for Carbon Capture and Utilization Workshop on May 23–24, 2017, in Orlando, Florida. The event gathered stakeholder input through facilitated discussions focused on innovative technologies and business strategies for growing algae on waste carbon dioxide (CO2) resources.

Speakers representing the DOE Office of Fossil Energy and experts in the fields of waste CO2 capture and utilization and algae cultivation considered challenges and opportunities related to

  • Sourcing CO2, including quality, quantity, siting, and transport considerations
  • Cultivating algae, including biomass productivity, efficiency in CO2 utilization, and carbon balances in end products
  • Finding sustainable “win-win” solutions to reducing CO2 emissions while finding cost savings.

Participant input will help inform DOE strategies for leveraging these technologies to realize affordable, scalable, and sustainable production of biofuels and bioproducts made from algae.

The proceedings summarizing the results of this workshop are available below:

Note: These proceedings summarize the results of a public workshop sponsored by BETO in Orlando, Florida, on May 23–24, 2017. The views and opinions of the workshop attendees, as summarized in this document, do not necessarily reflect those of the United States government or any corresponding agency.

Agenda

For more information about the workshop schedule, sessions, and speakers, view the workshop agenda.

Presentations

To view presentations from the workshop, visit the Algae Cultivation for Carbon Capture and Utilization Workshop Presentations web page.

Sharpening Our Tools: Algal Biology Toolbox Workshop

BETO hosted the Algal Biology Toolbox Workshop on May 24–25, 2016, in San Diego, California. Because biological productivity is a key driver for the economic viability of algae-based biofuels, improving the performance of native strains is a critical element of the research efforts funded by BETO’s Advanced Algal Systems Program.

The purpose of this workshop was to gather experts in the field of algal biology to discuss the following:

  • The current state of algal biological tools, including our understanding of algal biology and biochemistry, available molecular toolboxes, omics databases, and other resources
  • Challenges to developing and applying a full suite of biology tools to improve algae performance and system robustness
  • Strategies to advance progress toward commercial algal biofuels.

Attendees reviewed the tools and resources available to grow, monitor, valorize, and genetically enhance algae for biofuel production. Participant input will help inform a strategy for leveraging these tools to realize a future where algae-based biofuels and bioproducts contribute significantly to the U.S. bioeconomy.

The proceedings summarizing the results of this workshop are available below:

Note: These proceedings summarize the results of a public workshop sponsored by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in San Diego, California, on May 24–25, 2016. The views and opinions of the workshop attendees, as summarized in this document, do not necessarily reflect those of the United States government or any corresponding agency.

BETO's Algae Program hosted two complementary workshops to discuss research and development needed to achieve affordable, scalable, and sustainable algae-based biofuels. The first workshop was held November 19–20, 2013, at Arizona State University. The second workshop was held March 26–27, 2014, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Algal Biofuels Strategy Workshop – Spring Event

This event was held on March 26–27, 2014, in Charleston, South Carolina.

The proceedings summarizing the results of this workshop are available below:

Note: These proceedings summarize the results of a public workshop sponsored by DOE/EERE in Charleston, South Carolina, on March 26–27, 2014. The views and opinions of the workshop attendees, as summarized in this document, do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. government or any corresponding agency.

Algal Biofuels Strategy Workshop – Fall Event

This event was held on November 19–20, 2013, at Arizona State University.

The Algal Biofuels Strategy Workshop proceedings are detailed in the chapters below.

Contents

Note: These proceedings summarize the results of a public workshop sponsored by DOE/EERE in Mesa, Arizona, on November 19–20, 2013. The views and opinions of the workshop attendees, as summarized in this document, do not necessarily reflect those of the United States government or any corresponding agency.