Chemical Engineers Develop Technique To Convert Algae Into Bio Crude

Chemical Engineers Develop Technique To Convert Algae Into Bio Crude

A novel jet mixer that coverts algae into viable and cost-effective conventional fuel with very less energy.

Chemical engineers at the University of Utah have designed a novel jet mixer that turns algae into bio crude being viable and cost-effective fuel. Lipids are packed inside microorganisms that live in ponds and lakes. These fatty acid molecules when extracted can power the diesel engines hence called as bio crude. The lipids are present in a variety of micro-organisms that help produce sustainable conventional fuel. However, the challenge with using algae for biomass is that the process requires plenty of energy to extract lipids from the water plants.

The novel jet extractor developed by the team at Utah, shoots solvent jets at the jets of the algae thereby creating turbulence in which the lipids flow into the stream of solvent. The solvent can be utilized again and again thereby, repeating the process. This restricts spending too much energy spent on drying of the algae and is more rapid than the conventional technologies that were earlier used to produce biomass. This technology is not only applicable to algae but even fungi and bacteria. Thus, this method of extracting water by shooting jets has turned out to be efficient, eco-friendly and cost-effective.

The conventional technique involved, draining water from the algae further leaving slurry for biomass which requires immense energy. The gathered slurry is then mixed with a solvent to separate lipids. To power trucks and tractors, the slurry is mixed with diesel fuel. However, the initial stage of extracting water from the plants is quite uneconomical, inefficient and irrational. Currently, the researchers are working on advancing their research efforts to attract commercial deals. The study was published in the journal Chemical Engineering Science X on March 4, 2019.