Collaboration Explores Algae In Fuel Production

algae in fuel production

The need for renewable and carbon neutral energy sources has produced an interesting solution: the use of algae in fuel production, which also provides opportunities for learning and collaboration among St. Petersburg College, students, faculty, and the community.

SPC is happy to announce a collaboration with Culturing Solutions to provide a space for an outside laboratory to demonstrate Hybrid Algae Production technology. Culturing Solutions has been working on algae conversion to biofuels since 2008 and has had amazing breakthroughs in the past few years.

A pilot project will commence in August 2017 that will explore the efficiency of Culturing Solutions, Inc. Hybrid Photobioreactor technology that produces biomass. The biomass will be fed to anaerobic bacteria to produce Renewable Natural Gas that can be used in Combined Cycle Turbine generators to produce electricity. As an added benefit, this process captures carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas.

Culturing Solutions CEO Dean Tsoupeis says the possibilities for algae, which can be produced on waste streams, like agricultural and municipal waste, is exciting.

“It is my hope that this project can show that it is possible to produce 30 percent of our electricity using algae,” he said.

St. Petersburg College’s collaboration with Culturing Solutions will provide a learning opportunity for students that enriches the environmental science curriculum for the areas of Natural Sciences and Engineering. SPC students and faculty will participate in the production and harvesting of the algae.

Seminole Innovation Lab Manager and Librarian Chad Mairn says the collaboration is important.

“Students will be able to gain real-world research opportunities and work on something that could potentially make the world a better place,” he said.

Culturing Solutions’ production of biomass at St. Petersburg College allows for participation in the George Barley Water Prize, which is a competition of technologies that remediate and clean up the Everglades. If Culturing Solutions wins the prize, then a donation to create a student scholarship will be offered to the college.

Seminole Campus Provost Mark Strickland is excited about the long reach of the project.

“The project doesn’t end when the research is complete at SPC,” Strickland said. “Our faculty, staff, and students will be able to learn from this experience and share the knowledge they gain with others, and a new set of individuals will be armed with important information going forward to make a positive impact in the world of science.”

The public is invited to check out the Hybrid Photobioreactor at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th Street. You can also see project updates at the Science and Mathematics blog.


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