CAFOs Could Commercialize Algae Biofuels

John Davis

Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) could be the key for algae-to-biofuel operations becoming commercial-scale… that according to Thomas Byrne, president and CEO of Byrne & Company LLP, a renewable energy project developer.

This article from Biorefining Magazine says the potential is greatest in northern climates, where anaerobic digesters that use microbes to break down the organic forms of nitrogen and phosphorous into inorganic forms… usable by algae:

“The methane produced by the anaerobic microbes is burned in a generator to produce an export of electricity and also waste heat that can be utilized to raise algae year-round,” Byrne says. “Bioreactors to grow algal species are well suited to take both the inorganic forms of nitrogen and phosphorous from the digester, as well as the waste heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the generator, to produce ideal inputs for algal growth.”

While the idea of co-locating an algal biomass growing facility with an established CAFO is a very real possibility, Byrne notes that the amount of algae grown for commercialization on a CAFO is limited by the availability of the CO2, nitrogen and phosphorus. “The limitations are both from what the CAFO produces, and what is needed from other operations of the CAFO.” Some bioreactor technology, like that of Algaedyne’s, which uses a process that controls photosynthesis by injecting only Photosynthetic Active Radiation into the depth of algae vessels, would make the process more feasible.

Byrne will be talking about the feasibility of a CAFO and algal biomass operation at the 2011 Pacific West Biomass Conference & Trade Show, Jan. 10-12 in Seattle.

algae, biofuels, conferences