Keywords: microalgae fims, biofuels, closed photobioreactors, renewable energy, bioreactors, fermenters, closed production systems, biofuel production, productivity
Developments of five selected microalgae companies developing 'closed' bioreactor biofuel production systems
This work reviews the current status of five selected companies at the forefront of production of liquid fuels from microalgae produced in 'closed' photobioreactors and fermenters: Algae.Tec, Algenol Biofuel, Heliae, Solazyme and Solix. All the five companies in the review have developed novel closed production systems, each with unique technology partners, capabilities and commercial strategies. Advantages of reactors include higher volumetric productivity and reduced contamination risks. Conversely, the largest challenges for reactors are minimising capital and production costs, in addition to attracting initial investment capital for non–conventional complex technical systems. This review provides a concise summary of each company's technology, background, and where available, a qualified assessment of the productivity and economics of their systems. This review demonstrates that commercially viable production systems will need to achieve sustained volumetric productivity to reduce per unit costs, and industry cross–collaboration will be essential for closed system technology developments to successfully produce cost–competitive fuels.