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Researchers produce biofuel using algae, brine shrimp and tilapia

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Researchers have created an innovative system that extracts oil for use as biofuel by bringing algae, brine shrimp and tilapia to use. This system will bring down the greenhouse gas emissions in a proposed electric power plant dramatically. David Brune, bioprocessing engineering professor at the University of Missouri and his colleagues have succeeded in developing a biomass cultivation model for a proposed 50-megawatt natural-gas-fired power plant in Southern California.

According to the design made by the researchers, sludge-fed algae would be cultivated in large raceways. But, paddle wheels would speed up reproduction by moving the water. In order to avoid such a situation brine shrimp and tilapia are used. The brine shrimp eat the algae and convert it into a consistent, high-quality protein and oil, while the tilapia consume the algae to prevent overproduction, reduce zooplankton and clean up algal waste to provide clean water.

The researchers say that the shrimp are harvested and separated into high-protein feeds and oils; and as far as the shrimp waste is concerned, it is collected and fermented in an anaerobic digester. This ingenious system has an added advantage that is the carbon dioxide generated by the plant can be fed to the algae. Mr.Brune believes that microalgal biomass production has a number of advantages over conventional biomass production like higher productivity, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, use otherwise nonproductive land, reuse and recover waste nutrients, and use saline or brackish waters.

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