• 13 hours Iraq Begins To Rebuild Largest Refinery
  • 17 hours Canadian Producers Struggle To Find Transport Oil Cargo
  • 19 hours Venezuela’s PDVSA Makes $539M Interest Payments On Bonds
  • 20 hours China's CNPC Considers Taking Over South Pars Gas Field
  • 22 hours BP To Invest $200 Million In Solar
  • 23 hours Tesla Opens New Showroom In NYC
  • 24 hours Petrobras CEO Hints At New Partner In Oil-Rich Campos Basin
  • 1 day Venezuela Sells Oil Refinery Stake To Cuba
  • 1 day Tesla Is “Headed For A Brick Wall”
  • 2 days Norwegian Pension Fund Set to Divest From Oil Sands and Coal Ventures
  • 2 days IEA: “2018 Might Not Be Quite So Happy For OPEC Producers”
  • 2 days Goldman Bullish On Oil Markets
  • 2 days OPEC Member Nigeria To Issue Africa’s First Sovereign Green Bond
  • 2 days Nigeria To Spend $1B Of Oil Money Fighting Boko Haram
  • 2 days Syria Aims To Begin Offshore Gas Exploration In 2019
  • 2 days Australian Watchdog Blocks BP Fuel Station Acquisition
  • 2 days Colombia Boosts Oil & Gas Investment
  • 3 days Environmentalists Rev Up Anti-Keystone XL Angst Amongst Landowners
  • 3 days Venezuelan Default Swap Bonds At 19.25 Cents On The Dollar
  • 3 days Aramco On The Hunt For IPO Global Coordinators
  • 3 days ADNOC Distribution Jumps 16% At Market Debut In UAE
  • 3 days India Feels the Pinch As Oil Prices Rise
  • 3 days Aramco Announces $40 Billion Investment Program
  • 3 days Top Insurer Axa To Exit Oil Sands
  • 4 days API Reports Huge Crude Draw
  • 4 days Venezuela “Can’t Even Write A Check For $21.5M Dollars.”
  • 4 days EIA Lowers 2018 Oil Demand Growth Estimates By 40,000 Bpd
  • 4 days Trump Set To Open Atlantic Coast To Oil, Gas Drilling
  • 4 days Norway’s Oil And Gas Investment To Drop For Fourth Consecutive Year
  • 4 days Saudis Plan To Hike Gasoline Prices By 80% In January
  • 4 days Exxon To Start Reporting On Climate Change Effect
  • 5 days US Geological Survey To Reevaluate Bakken Oil Reserves
  • 5 days Brazil Cuts Local Content Requirements to Attract Oil Investors
  • 5 days Forties Pipeline Could Remain Shuttered For Weeks
  • 5 days Desjardins Ends Energy Loan Moratorium
  • 5 days ADNOC Distribution IPO Valuation Could Be Lesson For Aramco
  • 5 days Russia May Turn To Cryptocurrencies For Oil Trade
  • 5 days Iraq-Iran Oil Swap Deal To Run For 1 Year
  • 8 days Venezuelan Crude Exports To U.S. Fall To 15-year Lows
  • 8 days Mexico Blames Brazil For Failing Auction

Breaking News:

Iraq Begins To Rebuild Largest Refinery

Alt Text

Oil Refiners And Farmers Battle Over Biofuels

Trump has agreed to meet…

Alt Text

Sweden Burns H&M Clothes As Fuel

A power plant in Stockholm…

Alt Text

Is This The Ultimate Fuel For Millennials?

The next biofuel breakthrough could…

Green Futures

Green Futures

This article originally appeared in Green Futures magazine. Green Futures is the leading international magazine on environmental solutions and sustainable futures, published by Forum for…

More Info

NASA Design Floating Bioreactor for Growing Biofuel

NASA Design Floating Bioreactor for Growing Biofuel

Algae feed off wastewater and carbon dioxide to produce biomass for fuel, fertiliser and feed in floating 'photobioreactors'.

NASA has developed a unique coastal floating system to produce biomass suitable for biofuels, fertiliser and animal feed, without competing with agriculture for water or land. Its Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae [OMEGA] project converts wastewater and carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass, through the cultivation of freshwater algae.

OMEGA System

The rapid-growing algae feed off wastewater and draw on energy from the sun in large floating tubes of plastic, called ‘photobioreactors’, which are moored off the coastline. The algae remove pollutants from the wastewater, while the sea itself provides natural cooling, to prevent the organic system from overheating. The photobioreactors also offer new habitats for marine life.

Related article: Exxon’s Algae Gamble 25 Years into the Future

A 450-gallon prototype has been trialled at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant, following small-scale tests of the principle in seawater tanks at the California Fish and Game laboratory in Santa Cruz. The team is now exploring the feasibility of large-scale applications.

“We’ve addressed some of the more daunting technological problems for implementing OMEGA,” says Jonathan Trent, the NASA bioengineer leading the OMEGA project. One of the main challenges was removing the oxygen, a by-product, from the system and introducing more carbon dioxide, to prevent the algae from becoming starved. The tubular solution introduces CO2 with wastewater at the bottom of the containers, and allows O2 to escape through the walls of the photobioreactors. Trent says that the OMEGA system can also be connected with renewable energy infrastructure, such as wind or wave, to improve its financial viability.

Earlier this year, NASA invited members of the biofuel industry to develop the OMEGA concept. “Now the hope is that other organizations and industries will realise the potential of the OMEGA technology for wastewater treatment and ultimately to produce sustainable biofuels.”

Related article: Camelina – Tomorrow’s Biofuel, Today

NASA originally launched the OMEGA project to investigate its potential to produce fuel for aviation.

“The development of sustainable biofuels is crucial for the world, where we are almost entirely dependent on fossil fuel for transportation”, says Martin Tangney, the Director of the Biofuel Research Centre at the Edinburgh Napier University. “This NASA initiative has tremendous potential, but the key will be maintaining an environmental balance with financial viability, as ultimately all biofuel must compete on the open fuel market.”

By. Ian Randall

Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Michael Keen on July 01 2013 said:
    Need to come to Clear Lake, CA., we have plenty of algae biomass that needs to be removed from our lake. To many orchards and vineyards has created a horrible mess here. Why grow it where it does not exist? It's pre-existing here in our lake. All you need is to harvest and truck it where ever it needs to go.
  • Michael Keen on July 02 2013 said:
    Need to come to Clear Lake, CA., we have plenty of algae biomass that needs to be removed from our lake. To many orchards and vineyards has created a horrible mess here. Why grow it where it does not exist? It's pre-existing here in our lake. All you need is to harvest and truck it where ever it needs to go or use the Lake for your first production facility. We have geo thermal power up here also, come and get it, we dare you!

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News