The Potential for Micro-algae and Other "Micro-crops" to Produce Sustainable Biofuels (2011)

Client Organization: 
National Wildlife Federation
Project Location : 
Summary of Project Idea: 

Interest from private investors and government agencies has promoted algae and other "micro-crops" as a source of sustainable biofuels. However, this emerging and dynamic industry will require proper assessment to resolve uncertainties. Concerns of potential environmental impacts caused by commercial scale algae biofuels production include genetic modification, land-use, water quality and quantity, biodiversity and waste management at both local and landscape scale. We predict potential environmental impacts through the creation of model open system raceway pond and closed system photobioreactor systems that utilize photoautotrophic technology. Results from these systems will provide insight to inputs and outputs of algae biofuel facilities at a commercial scale, while also determining the algae biofuel industry's financial viability and subsequently pose policy recommendations to guide industry expansion.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
John DeCicco
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Aaron Assmann, MS Conservation Biology
  • Amy Braun, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Siddharth John, MS Sustainable Systems                         
  • Antony Lei, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems                                 
  • Sean Southard, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
Project Status: 
Past Project