Alage Testbed Public Private Partnership: Two years of Unified Field Study Results to Identify Current State of Technology for Algal Biomass Production

J.A. McGowen
Arizona State University,
United States

Keywords: algae, cultivation, productivity, testbeds


Microalgae offer us highly productive crops capable of producing nutraceuticals, oils, proteins, and specialty chemicals. Our ability to harness this resource lies in our ability to improve production methods to reduce costs while increasing biomass productivity. Cost reduction and control will depend on the industry’s ability to produce reliably and consistently. The Algae Testbed Public Private Partnership, ATP3, is a Department of Energy supported consortium funded to generate high impact data in order to quantify the seasonal and geographic variation on the production of microalgae biomass for use in production of biofuels and bioproducts. The primary question addressed in our consortium research is to empirically define the climatic and regional variables that drive microalgae biomass productivity variation by collecting reliable and robust data sets that can be used to calibrate in-silico biomass productivity models and support and validate techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessments (LCA). In order to generate the data needed, five test bed sites equipped with identical production systems and utilizing identical production methods, as well as harmonized analytical methods for determination of proximate composition of the biomass, have been operated for the last year in a series of Unified Field Studies (UFS). UFS trials have been conducted over four seasons to compare two continuous production strategies with multiple strains, including Nannochloropsis oceanica, Chlorella vulgaris and Desmodesmus sp. Data collected includes: productivity, proximate composition, weather and pond reliability/contamination events. Data will be presented that compares strains, production methods, seasonal and site specific effects on pond reliability in order to begin to identify primary factors that reduce annual harvest yields due to crop failures. We will present also on seed scale up strategies and their effects on cultivation reliability and novel tools for monitoring and tracking pond ecology and stability.