Algae as Biofuel
The City of New York and Biohabitats investigated two approaches to using algae to remove excess nutrients wastewater treatment plant effluent before it enters Jamaica Bay. Because algae remove CO2 from water and the atmosphere inject oxygen into treated waters, using algae as a natural method to address heavy nutrient loads was validated as a sound and scalable strategy. Once the algae are removed from the water, however, what can they be used for? This study examined the feasibility of harvesting algae for use as biofuel.
Algae from a pilot experiment at the City’s Rockaway wastewater treatment plant and algae from an Algal Turf Scrubber® (ATS™) system were examined for nutrient and carbon content, and the total biomass was estimated for the existing pilots and for the possibility of expanded efforts. This information was used to analyze the potential production of both biomass and bio-fuels. The researchers then analyzed the potential for scaling up the approach and how doing so could affect the relationship between algae and energy if these strategies were implemented at scale.