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Research project: Electrolytic Engineering Approaches to Harvest Algae for Liquid Biofuels

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Test flights have shown that Bio fuels are a viable replacement for current crude oil derived fuels. One of the current constraints of producing a viable quantity of bio fuel from algae is the rate of separation of the algae from water. Current extraction processes contribute approximately 20-40% to the considerable cost premium of bio fuels making it the most expensive production process step. The US Air Force paid around $59/gallon for algae biofuels in 2012, as compared with $4/gallon for fossil-fuel derived jet-fuel.

Methods such as centrifugation, membrane filtration, natural sedimentation, chemical flocculation and air flotation have been tested; but they have limitations including low yield, slow process, not efficient, batch mode, expensive process, and limited capability for engineering scale-up.

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