Selecting Algae for Biofuels
Among the approximately 65,000 known algae species, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Aquatic Species Program has selected, as the most promising for large scale biofuel production, the seven species briefly described below. NREL selected these algae for their high lipid content from which triglycerides can be extracted for producing bio-diesel fuel and/or high starch content from which sugar can be fermented for producing bioethanol.
• Phaeodactylum tricornutum (freshwater diatoms formerly classified as Nitzschia closterium) – Fast growth and 40-45% oil content.
• Neochloris oleoabundans – Fast growth and 40-45% oil content
• Tetraselmis chui – Fast growth with approximately 45% oil content.
• Chlorella minutisimma, C. vulgaris and C. homosphaera –High growth rates and can tolerate high concentrations of lipid during growth.
• Bottryococcus braunii. Bottryococcus sp produces large quantities of lipid with very long chain hydrocarbons, more like crude oil than other species, relatively slow growing.
• Dunaliela salina – a potential feedstock for alcohol production, with high growth rates and high starch content.
• Nannochloropsis salina (also called Nannochloris oculata). High growth rate with up to 60% lipid.