Development of a High Throughput Algal Dewatering System Using Magnetic Particles

Period of Performance: 08/01/2016 - 07/31/2018

$1MM

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Manta Biofuel, LLC
17 Glynn Garth Array
Reisterstown, MD 21136
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

Algal biofuels hold the promise of directly replacing fossil fuels through domestic production of renewable gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Before algae can be converted to fuel it must be harvested and concentrated 400fold, however, no commercial technology can perform this step cheaply enough to allow economic production of fuel from algae. The lack of a low cost algal harvesting technology is a critical roadblock preventing the commercial development of algal biofuels. This problem is being addressed through development of Manta Biofuel’s low cost magnetic algae harvesting technology. The project (Phase I & II) is focused on developing equipment that can harvest algae cheaply enough so algal biofuel are directly cost competitive with fossil fuels. In Phase I we developed and successfully field tested an efficient, commercial scale magnetic algae harvester. This harvester significantly exceeded the DOE’s target performance metrics. DOE’s Target Performance metrics (Topic 12c) Manta Biofuel’s Phase I results Reduce algal dewatering capital cost by 2530% 76% reduction in capital cost Reduce energy consumption by 20% 89% reduction in energy consumption Produce an algae slurry of 20% solids 23% solids algae slurry was produced Our Phase II project will target a final capital cost reduction of 92.4% and a final energy consumption reduction of 93.9%. The Phase II project will refine our design to meet cost and energy metrics through data driven engineering, lab testing and field testing. We will also focus on improving reliability to the level that is needed for a commercial system. Specifically, we will target three days of continuous unmanned operation. This level of performance is critical to be competitive in the fuels industry due to the low cost of fuel. The harvester will be used commercially in Manta Biofuel’s cost competitive renewable crude oil production system, ensuring that this project fulfills the SBIR program’s mission of commercializing federally supported R&D. In addition, companies in wastewater treatment, nutraceuticals, and environmental remediation industries have expressed interest in purchasing this technology. Successful development through Phase II will result in an algae harvester with sufficiently low cost to allow economic harvest of algae for fuel. Enabling production of renewable algal biofuel at scale will have significant public benefits. Development of renewable fuels will reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming. It will drive the creation of sustainable jobs in rural America where biofuel production will take place. Domestically produced fuel will reduce dependence on foreign oil and help decouple US foreign policy from US energy needs. Deriving our fuel from a sustainable source will provide economic security through predictable production and prices as opposed to the boomandbust cycles that dominate fuel markets today. Key Words: Algae, harvesting, dewatering, algal biofuel, magnetic, renewable energy, low cost, high throughput