National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts
The overall goal of the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium is to produce new technologies that can be implemented by our commercial partners and others developing the algal biofuel industry. In order to achieve this goal, our program incorporates major objectives in Algal Biology, Cultivation, Harvesting/Extraction, and Conversion to fuels, Coproduct development, and Economic/energy-balance modeling and resource management components that will establish the technologies’ viability for overall sustainability.
The National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) was created through the association of a large number of academic institutions, industrial companies, and national laboratories, to develop innovative technologies that will help bring biofuels to a commercial reality. The NAABB was recently funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Biomass Programs, to focus on the development of the algal biofuels industry. As a government and industry partnership, the NAABB will devote $49M of federal funds along with $20M of cost share commitments from its partners to new research, development and demonstration activities in algal biofuels. The NAABB will develop technologies for cost-effective production of algal biomass and lipids, and co-products, and provide a framework for a sustainable biofuels industry.
NAABB OBJECTIVES, RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND DEMONSTRATION
Our work focuses on the development of strains of algae that have high biomass and lipid production performance and can be safely deployed. To do this we are increasing the overall productivity of algal biomass accumulation and lipid/hydrocarbon content by mining the natural diversity of algal strains, and performing mutagenesis for increased lipid production. Our systems biology approaches for lipid production include knowledge gathered through genomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics of developmental and production algal strains. The NAABB crop protection projects involve adaptive evolution and genetic modification of algae for environmental traits. This program maximizes yield through nutrient, ionomics, and metabolic regulation. Maximizing lipid production involves deep understanding of the lipid secretory and packaging systems in algae through transcriptomics and manipulation of these organisms through genetic modification. Our work also involves maximizing hydrocarbon production of algae through regulation of the terpenoid pathways in algae.
The development of scalable practices in various environments is part of the NAABB concept. Our partners are addressing cultivation in arid, semi-arid, wet, and marine environments. We have tools to measure productivities under climate conditions that simulate variations in light, air and pond temperatures for seasonal variations in different regions of the country and are able to feed this information into robust models. This work will increase overall productivity by optimizing sustainable cultivation and production systems. Furthermore, NAABB is addressing methods for optimization of photobioreactors and open cultivation.
Algal Harvesting and Concentration
It is well accepted that the development of cost-effective and energy efficient harvesting and lipid extraction technologies will make a major impact to this industry. Therefore, NAABB is investing in the development of harvesting technologies using innovative acoustic focusing, hybrid capacitive deionization/electro deionization systems and new materials concepts for traditional membranes and flocculants type systems. Our lipid extraction technologies involve innovations in acoustics, mesoporous nanomaterials, and amphiphilic solvents.
The development of cost effective “drop-in” transportation fuels is from algae is our key goal. NAABB is developing technologies to convert lipids/hydrocarbons and biomass residues into useful fuels. Our program involves understanding the physical and chemical properties of algal biofuels and the thermophysical and transport properties of biofuels. NAABB is developing lipid conversion to fuels via catalytic decarboxylation and deoxygenation, and catalytic and supercritical transesterification. Our biomass conversion program involves catalytic gasification, thermochemical gasification and power, fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing, and anaerobic fermentation to alcohols and gasoline.
The overall success of the algal biofuels industry is dependent on the development of sustainable practices that are energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and economically viable. To do this NAABB is quantitatively assessing the energy, environment, economic viability and sustainability of algal biofuels processes through economic analysis, economic models, global analysis, and life cycle and process analysis. This will lead to appropriate resource management, CO2 and nutrient management, and hydrology/water management.
The NAABB Coproduct development program will add profitability and flexibility to the overall changes in the biofuels markets. We are developing coproducts inlarge scale marketable livestock and mariculture feed, through the production of lipid-extracted micro and macro-algae (LEA), testing nutritional content of LEA, live animal and mariculture studies, and the development of processes that will lead to certification of feeds. Similarly, our industrial Coproducts program involves the development of synthetic natural gas production, thermal energy from LEA, bioplastics from proteins and lipids and feedstocks for the nitrogen chemical industry.