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Title: Development of Bio-Oil Commodity Fuel as a Refinery Feedstock from High Impact Algae Biomass

A two-stage hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) process was developed to 1) reduce nitrogen levels in algal oil, 2) generate a nitrogen rich stream with limited inhibitors for recycle and algae cultivation, and 3) improve downstream catalytic hydrodenitrogenation and hydrodeoxygenation of the algal oil to refinery intermediates. In the first stage, low temperature HTL was conducted at 125, 175, and 225°C at holding times ranging from 1 to 30 min (time at reaction temperature). A consortium of three algal strains, namely Chlorella sorokiniana, Chlorella minutissima, and Scenedesmus bijuga were used to grow and harvest biomass in a raceway system – this consortium is called the UGA Raceway strain throughout the report. Subsequent analysis of the final harvested product indicated that only two strains predominated in the final harvest - Chlorella sorokiniana and Scenedesmus bijuga. Two additional strains representing a high protein (Spirulina platensis) and high lipid algae (Nannochloropsis) strains were also used in this study. These strains were purchased from suppliers. S. platensis biomass was provided by Earthrise Nutritionals LLC (Calipatria, CA) in dry powder form with defined properties, and was stored in airtight packages at 4°C prior to use. A Nannochloropsis paste from Reed Mariculture was purchased and used in themore » two-stage HTL/HDO experiments. The solids and liquids from this low temperature HTL pretreatment step were separated and analyzed, leading to the following conclusions. Overall, these results indicate that low temperature HTL (200-250°C) at short residence times (5-15 min) can be used to lyse algae cells and remove/separate protein and nitrogen before subsequent higher temperature HTL (for lipid and other polymer hydrolysis) and HDO. The significant reduction in nitrogen when coupled with low protein/high lipid algae cultivation methods at scale could significantly improve downstream catalytic HDO results. However, significant barriers and knowledge gaps exist that must be overcome and understood. The ability of the separated protein/nitrogen rich aqueous stream to support algae cultivation needs to be verified (and the kinetics of growth measured). The kinetics of algae hydrothermal liquefaction on a mechanistic basis needs to be measured and understood. A better understanding of Maillard reactions during algae HTL is needed. And the impact of Maillard reaction products and incompletely hydrolyzed cell wall components on catalyst deactivation during HDO needs to be understood. Finally, an inexpensive HDO process and associated catalyst capable of converting the algal oil to hydrocarbons needs to be developed.« less
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  1. Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA (United States). Dept. of Biochemical Engineering
  2. Desert Research Inst. (DRI), Reno, NV (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Contributing Orgs:
Desert Research Inst. (DRI), Reno, NV (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States