• Research resultsResearch of seaweed use for CO2 fixation and biofuel production – APVV – 0665-10 ALGAFIX

    Research of seaweed use for CO2 fixation and biofuel production – APVV – 0665-10 ALGAFIX

    The project is running under support of APVV

    Scientific workplaces:

    VÚRUP,a.s. – responsible investigator Ing. Jozef Mikulec, CSc.

    Co-investigators:

    STU Bratislava – FCHPT
    STU Bratislava – Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
    UC in Bratislava – Faculty of Natural Sciences

    Algae are the fastest growing plants of the world and are highly productive. Like other plants, they use the photosynthesis to use sunlight and carbon dioxide. The energy is stored in cells in form of lipids (oil source) and saccharides. The algae may be converted into FAME, bioethanol and aviation fuel. Within the frame of biofuel projects, the cultivation of algae in basins or special transparent bioreactors is considered. For both cases of the algae cultivation, a source of carbon, light, nutrients and warm water is required. Strains of algae with a high oil content may represent a valuable raw material input for the FAME production in terms of 1st generation fuels yet. Other strains of algae with a high starch content are already being submitted to tests for production of bioethanol in the plants of the 1st generation as well, while different strains of algae are being developed specially for the aviation fuel production.

    At present, dozens of R&D projects focused on use of algae are running at universities and labs, some pilot tests and demo-projects are running at the commercial sector, and some experimental plants convert the algae into bio-oils that may be refined to biodiesel, biogasoline, aviation fuel etc.

    The biogas may also be produced via an anaerobe fermentation of wet organic waste from the agriculture, food production and waste water treatment plants. As products of the fermentation is a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. The production of biogas amounts 230PJ per year within the EU. It is mainly used to generate heat and/or cogeneration of heat and electricity. The biogas for use in driving must be purified, dried and compressed, which includes additional cost. It may be presumed that also in the next future only a small portion of the biogas will be used for engine drive.

    Nowadays, the algae culture are used as human dietary supplement being a source of proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and important bioactive substances (antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, potential sources for drugs), further in the aquaculture of aquatic animals (fish, crustaceans, molluscs), or also to improve the soil characteristics or in bioremediation. In the context of shrinking resources of fossil fuels and increasing consumption and thus the price for energy, the issue about alternative and renewable energy sources, in particular, becomes more important. The vegetable biomass is one of sources, the use of which greatly expanded in recent years. The algae are suitable biomass producer because some aquatic strains in comparison to plants are by one order more efficient at the conversion of the solar energy and at the fixation of COto biomass.

    The last ten years, the biofuel issue (biogas, biodiesel, bioalcohol, biomethane) from algae is being studies very intensively at several research centers because the global effort is heading to a reduced consumption of fossil fuels. The main problem is currently high production cost of biomass that is caused mostly by a low productivity, insufficient technical sophistication of the cultivation equipment, considerable operation cost (energy for the operation – electricity, heat) and the price of input raw material (water, CO2 as the source of carbon, nutrients – phosphates, nitrates, iron salts etc.). Cost reductions in the biomass production in the mass cultures may be achieved with fast growing algae strains by using the “waste” energy from some industrial hardware (power plants, incineration plants) that may be source of the “cheap” CO2, or nutrients from the waste water, respectively.

    Within activities aiming at the use of algae, besides the CO2 fixation from external sources (e.g. as byproduct from the biogas station) with a following biomass fermentation to form its own biogas, another question is arising increasingly, and that is the use of algae in the process of waste water treatment, which makes this whole process of use of algae even more sophisticated.

    Such an approach offers some interesting advantages if compared to the conventional process of waste water treatment:

    Cost-efficiency

    It has been established that more as cost-effective proved to be the way how to remove the biochemical oxygen consumption (the quantity of organic contamination), pathogens, phosphorus and nitrogen, as the activation process and other secondary purifying processes.

    Low energy requirements

    The traditional waste water treatment include high energy cost for mechanical aeration and oxygen addition for aerobic bacteria to process the organic compounds in the waste water while the algae used in the waste water treatment provide the aerobic bacteria with oxygen (in the form of photosynthesis). The conventional aeration is a very demanding process in terms of energy representing 45 to 75 % of the total energy cost at the waste water treatment. Algae can provide an effective way how to consume nutrients and get oxygen for the aerobic bacteria by the photosynthesis. The elimination of 1 kg of BOC in the process of treatment with activated sludge requires one kWh electricity for aeration, producing 1 kilogram of fossil CO2 from the electricity production. Contrariwise, 1 kg BOC eliminated by photosynthetic oxygenation requires no energy inputs and produces enough algae biomass for the methane production that may produce 1 kWh electricity.

    Reduced sludge formation

    In the conventional waste water treatment the main goal is the minimization or elimination of sludge. The industrial waste water is conventionally purified by various dangerous chemical substances for the pH adjustment, sludge elimination, removal of color and odor. A wide use of chemicals for the waste water treatment results in the the formation of huge quantity of sludge representing the basis of so called toxic solid waste produced by the industry and with following deposits on landfills. When treating waste water by means of algae, the resulting sludge with algae biomass is energy-rich and may be further processed for the biofuel purpose or other valuable products such as fertilizers. The algae technology avoids use of chemicals, and the whole process of the waste water treatment is more simplified. So, there is a clear reduction in the formation of sludge.

    Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically defined that the conventional waste water treatment plants are considered to be the among the major contributors of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The waste water treatment technology using algae also emits CO2, but the algae consume much more CO2 during the own growth than it is released by the own treatment plant and it characterizes the whole system as “negative carbon” system.

    Production of usable algae biomass

    The obtained algae biomass may serve as a source for the production of valuable products such as biodiesel, biogas. The research shows that algae may produce 40-times bigger oil quantity for the biodiesel production per one area unit of the soil surface, than the oilseeds like soya, in controlled conditions.

    The algae biomass may be used for the production of bioethanol and biobutanol and, according to some estimates, a much more quantity of vegetable oil may be yielded from it if compared to the conventional crop production for the same purpose.

    The project goal is the study of CO2 fixation with use of micro algae and their further use in the production of biogas and/or components for the automotive fuels. The technology will be tested as an integrated process of CO2 utilization by algae while a simultaneous waste water treatment with the option of using the waste G-phase from the FAME production. The second degree will be the development of a technology for using algae as an alternative for the biogas production or use of lipids from algae for the production of liquid automotive biofuels of the second generation. The subject of research is mainly the integrated drop of production of the greenhouse gas GHG. These research activities are in line with the implementation of the Guideline 2009/28/EC on renewable energy sources.

    The scheduled research stages:

    1. The analysis of the published information on use of the CO2 from the industry and biogas stations for the algae production.
    2. The selection of suitable strains of algae, optimization of cultivation and separation of algae, use of the G-phase from the FAME production for the algae cultivation
    3. Equipment for the cultivation and separation of algae
    4. Tests of biofermentation of obtained biomass from the algae cultivation for the biogas production.
    5. Research of the use of algae for the production of components for automotive fuel.
    6. Pilot tests of the use of waste CO2 for the cultivation and use of algae in the biogas production.
    7. Final report on the project

    Publications to the project

    Mikulec J., Banič M., Cvengroš J., Joríková Ľ.: Catalytic hydrotreatment of algae oil, XIth European Congress on Catalysis “20 years of European Catalysis… and beyond”. Lyon, France, 1.-6.9.2013.

    Mikulec J., Kušnír P., Polakovičová G., Ležovičová V., Kubinec R., Cvengroš J.: Integrovaná konverzia mikrorias na biopalivá. [The integrated conversion of the micro algae to biofuels.] International conference on chemical technology – ICCT 2013, Mikulov, Česká republika, 8.-10.4.2013, ISBN 1978-80-86238-37-1.

    Fotobioreaktory na kultiváciu mikrorias  pre výrobu palív Marian Peciar, Peter Peciar, Roman Fekete, Jozef Mikulec, International conference on chemical technology – ICCT 2013, Mikulov, Česká republika, 8.-10.4.2013, ISBN 1978-80-86238-37-1.

    Vasilkovová B., Cvengrošová Z., Buzetzki E., Mikulec J., Cvengroš J.: Metylestery mastných kyselín z mikrorias.[Fatty acid methyl esters from micro algae.] International conference on chemical technology – ICCT 2013, Mikulov, Česká republika, 8.-10.4.2013, ISBN 1978-80-86238-37-1.

    Marek Banič, Ľudmila Joríková, Róbert Kubinec, Jaroslav Blaško, Jozef Mikulec Charakterizácia lipidov extrahovaných z mikrorias. [Characterization of lipids extracted from the micro algae.] International conference on chemical technology – ICCT 2013, Mikulov, Česká republika, 8.-10.4.2013, ISBN 1978-80-86238-37-1.

    Marek Banič, Ľudmila Joríková, Lýdia Pokorná Charakterizácia lipidov extrahovaných z mikrorias, In CHISA 2013 – 60. konference chemického a procesního inženýrství, 14.-17.října 2013, Srní, Šumava. [Characterization of lipids extracted from micro algae, In CHISA 2013 – 60th Conference of chemical and process engineering] Sborník [elektronický zdroj]. [The proceedings – Electronic source] Praha: Česká společnost chemického inženýrství, 2013, s. 14. [Czech Society of Chemical Engineering] ISBN 978-80-02-02500-

    Vasilkovová B., Cvengrošová Z., Kuliček J., Mikulec J., Cvengroš J.: Preparation of methylesters from microalgae oil. Proceedings, 46th  International Conference of Petroleum Processing. In Bratislava, on, SR, 7.6.2013, ISBN: 978-80-969792-4-0.

    Vasilkovová B., Cvengrošová Z., Kuliček J., Mikulec J., Cvengroš J.: Biofuels from microalgae oil. Proceedings, 46th International Conference of Petroleum Processing. In Bratislava, on, SR, 7.6.2013, ISBN: 978-80-969792-4-0.

    Jozef Mikulec, Patrik Kušnír, Gabriela Polakovičová, Vladimíra Ležovičová Carbon dioxide utilization for integrated biogas production, 46th International Conference of Petroleum Processing. In Bratislava, on, SR, 7.6.2013, ISBN: 978-80-969792-4-0.

    Jozef Mikulec, Andrea Kleinová, Ján Cvengroš, Ľudmila Joríková, Marek Banič:Catalytic transformation of tall oil into biocomponent of diesel fuel,International Journal of Chemical Engineering, Volume 2012(2012) article ID 215258.

    1. Takáčová, T. Mackuľak, P. Kušnír, M. Smolinská, G. Čík: Anaerobic Digestion of Micro-algae, International Symposium on Anaerobic Digestion of Solid Waste and Energy Crops, Vienna, 28.8-1.9.-2009.

    Róbert Kubinec, Jaroslav Blaško, Renáta Górová, Gabriela Addová, Ivan Ostrovský, Ladislav Soják, Peter Podolec, Alexandra Szabóová, Jozef Višňovský, Jozef Mikulec: GC-MS analýza mastných kyselín v riasach [The GC-MS analysis of fatty acids in algae]Chemické Listy 106 (2012) 297.

    Patrik Kušnír, Róbert Kubinec, Jozef Mikulec, Gabriela Polakovičová, Alžbeta Takáčová,  Marek Banič, Anna Orságová: Fixácia oxidu uhličitého, extrakcia a hodnotenie zloženia lipidov vybraných kmeňov rias vhodných na výrobu biopalív, , Aprochem 2012, Kouty n. Děsnou, 23.-25.4.2012.

    Jozef Mikulec, Miroslav Dolnák, Ján Cvengroš, Andrea Kleinová, Ľudmila Joríková : Využitie kukuričného oleja na výrobu palív [The utilization of maize oil in the production of fuel], Aprochem 2012, Kouty n. Děsnou, 23.-25.4.2012.

    Jozef Mikulec, Gabriela Polakovičová, Patrik Kušnír: Možnosti kultivácie a využitia rias na výrobu palív [Options for the cultivation and utilization of algea in the fuel production], Techagro 2012, 3.4.2012 Brno, ISBN 978-80-86884-66-2.

    Patrik Kušnír, Róbert Kubinec, Jozef Mikulec, Gabriela Polakovičová: Fixácia oxidu uhličitého, extrakcia a hodnotenie zloženia lipidov vybraných kmeňov rias vhodných na výrobu biopalív [The fixation of carbon dioxide, extraction and evaluation of the lipids composition of selected strains of algae being suitable for the biofuels production] , OZE 2012, Kouty n. Děsnou, 25.-27.4.2012, ISBN: 978-80-85990-21- 8.,

    Jozef Mikulec, Miroslav Dolnák, Ján Cvengroš, Andrea Kleinová, Ľudmila Joríková: Využitie kukuričného oleja na výrobu palív [The utilization of maize oil in the production of fuel], OZE 2012, Kouty n. Děsnou, 25.-27.4.2012, ISBN: 978-80-85990-21- 8.

    Jozef Mikulec, Ján Cvengroš, Andrea Kleinová, Tomáš Cvengroš, Ľudmila Joríková: Utilization of waste corn oil for biodiesel production, Biofuel International Exhibition & Conference, 20.-21.11.2012, Antwerp, Belgium.

    Gabriela Polakovičová, Patrik Kušnír, Slávka Nagyová, Jozef Mikulec: Process Integration of Algae Production and Anaerobic Digestion,15th Conference on Process Integration, Modelling and Optimization for Energy Saving and Pollution Reduction PRES 2012.,

    Gabriela Polakovičová, Patrik Kušnír, Slávka Nagyová, Jozef Mikulec: Process Integration of Algae Production and Anaerobic Digestion,CHEMICAL ENGINEERING TRANSACTIONS , VOL. 29, 2012, ISBN 978-88-95608-20-4, ISSN 1974-9791.

    1. Kleinova, Z. Cvengrošová, J. Rimarčík, E. Buzetzki, J. Mikulec, J. Cvengroš: Biofuels from algae, 20th International Congress of Chemical and Process Engineering CHISA 2012.

    Jozef Mikulec, Ján Cvengroš, Andrea Kleinová, Tomáš Cvengroš, Ľudmila Joríková: The use of corn oil for biodiesel production, European Biodiesel 2012 Conference, Cracow, June 13-14, 2012, Photobioreactor for Biomass Production.

    Marián Peciar, Roman Fekete, Peter Peciar, Patrik Kušnír: Photobioreactor for Biomass Production, 39th International Conference of SSChE, 21.-25.5.2012, Tatranské Matliare, ISBN: 978-80-89475-04-9, p. 116-121.

    Jozef Mikulec, Ján Cvengroš, Ľudmila Joríková, Marek Banič: Biodiesel and/or green diesel: Use of  waste feedstock, Interfaces 11, Sopron, 28.-30.9.2011, ISBN 978-963-9970-21-2.

    1. Takáčová, P. Olejníková, G. Čík, M. Smolinská, P. Kušnír: Use of algae for waste water treatment,Interfaces 11, Sopron, 28.-30.9.2011, ISBN 978-963-9970-21-2.

    Jozef Mikulec: Legislatíva a používanie obnoviteľných zdrojov energie v Strednej Európe so zreteľom na motorové palivá [The legislation and use of renewable energy sources in the Middle Europe with regard to the automotive fuel] , Seminár „Udržateľné spracovanie ropy vs. obnoviteľné zdroje energie“, [the seminar “Sustainable crude oil processing versus renewable energy sources”], Hotel Gate One, 14.6.2011, Bratislava.

    Michal Šingliar, Jozef Mikulec: Hodnotenie udržateľného rozvoja („Sustainability development“) v sektore spracovania ropy [Sustainable development evaluation], Seminár „Udržateľné spracovanie ropy vs. obnoviteľné zdroje energie“ [the seminar “Sustainable crude oil processing versus renewable energy sources”], Hotel Gate One, 14.6.2011, Bratislava.

    Jozef Mikulec,. Ján Cvengros: Bionafta a/alebo nafta z obnoviteľných zdrojov: [Biodiesel and/or diesel from the renewable sources:] Využitie odpadových surovín [Use of the waste raw material], Aprochem 2011, Kouty n. Děsnou,

    Ľubomír Švantner, Jozef Mikulec,  Ludmila Joríková, Marek Banič: Hodnotenie frakcií z krakovania plastov na prevádzkovej jednotke [Fraction evaluation from the plastics cracking at the operational unit], Aprochem 2011, Kouty n. Děsnou,

    Jozef Mikulec, Ľubomír Švantner, Ivan Vailing: Evaluation and use of the fractions from cracking of waste plastics on production unit, 6th International Symposium on Feedstock Recycling of Polymeric Materials, Toledo, Spain.

    Jozef Mikulec, Ján Cvengroš: Technológie výroby biopalív druhej generácie z odpadových surovín [Production technology of the 2nd generation biofuels from the waste raw materials], International Slovak Biomass Forum, Bratislava, 2011.

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