"If we can demonstrate it at Wright-Patt, after that it will be ready for commercialization to industry," Sidhu said.
If funded, the larger scale algae system would be installed next to a natural gas plant at Wright-Patterson, said Lt. Col.
Fitzner said the system would capture carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses to reduce pollution. It also would produce algae biomass that can be exchanged as a commodity or refined into "green" diesel for use in ground vehicles and equipment.
Sidhu said the
UDRI opened its
The system was subjected to this past winter's arctic cold, when temperatures dropped to -13 degrees at the
Algae feeds on carbon dioxide and converts it to oil, which accounts for as much as 70 percent of the organism's body weight in some strains. UDRI's technology captures carbon dioxide from industrial exhaust stacks before it is released into the atmosphere and runs it through algae-growing systems. This provides an alternative to geosequestration, where carbon dioxide is pumped deep into the earth, officials said.
In turn, the algae oil can be extracted and used to create renewable resources for biofuel.
"This is one of those technologies that lights up everyone's eyes because it has so much potential," Sidhu said.
UDRI has been performing research, testing and development of algae and algae-growing systems for pollution control and alternative energies since 2009 under funding from the
The new, 10,000-square-foot outdoor lab has an algae reactor volume of 40,000 liters -- 10 times that of an indoor research system that continues to operate in a UDRI lab on the university's main campus.
The outdoor system has surpassed the
Algae generation systems need to be able to operate outdoors to integrate with industrial plants that produce carbon dioxide. Sidhu said the planned demonstration system would scale up the technology to a 2-acre site, with 3,000 algae reactors, compared to the current outdoor lab's 80 reactors.
"Data and performance of the smaller scale system at UDRI indicates commercial and/or broad federal potential. However, these results are preliminary and require validation through the larger scale demonstration," Fitzner said.
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