UT’s OpenAlgae technology specializes in serving algae growers with continuous, solvent-free oil and biomass recovery via cost-effective concentration, lysing and oil extraction technologies. Just as oilfield service providers evolved to support oil production processes between the wellheads and the refineries, so too has OpenAlgae evolved to support algae growers in the next-generation biofuel industry.
OpenAlgae offers a continuous, solvent-less process that allows the grower to monetize both available oils and also the biomass.
To unleash the full potential of algae, processing methods must allow oil and biomass streams to be sold as commodities into the highest value markets available. OpenAlgae processing technologies remove oil from the algae by breaking down cell walls using electromagnetic forces, thereby eliminating energy- consuming drying stages and the use of chemical solvents. Our novel, low-energy oil recovery method collects the freed oil from the water and cell debris using proven and scalable technology.
The OpenAlgae Focus
There is a bottleneck between algae cultivation and refining. Getting usable volumes of oil out of tiny, hardy algae cells is historically energy-intensive and cost-prohibitive. Techniques exist that improve the energy yield to a small degree, but these processes tend to require permanent infrastructure at the grower’s site. After all, shipping wet algae is impractical, and the best growing sites tend not to be near refineries and shipping facilities. OpenAlgae relieves this bottleneck so that the cultivation and the refining processes can run at full capacity.
OpenAlgae’s efficient, onsite processing concentrates algae water to a slurry, opens the algae, releases the contents, and recovers water, algal oil and biomass. Depending on the amount of oil in the algae, each gallon of algal oil produced is expected to reduce the need for refined petroleum by approximately 0.75 gallon.
- Harvest and concentrate to return 99% of water
- Lyse algae to rupture cells and release lipids (oil)
- Recover oil and biomass without contamination
- Test and measure at each step to validate process
- Process any algae from any media
OpenAlgae has developed proprietary technologies and methods for processing oil and biomass from algae. The IP portfolio includes 11 patent applications, with more anticipated.
In our process, organic solvents do not contaminate the algae during processing, resulting in water re-use and high-value products.
OpenAlgae Goes to the Growers
With the OpenAlgae system, the processing facility goes to algae cultivation sites. OpenAlgae delivers systems that fill the gaps in growing operations. Because the OpenAlgae system requires less energy than other processes, works with a variety of algae crops, “plugs in” to most cultivation systems, and can be installed as a complete package, we can now push the full output of growing operations directly into the biofuels market.
As technologies continue to develop, OpenAlgae systems can be adapted and upgraded to improve performance, enhance production and reduce costs. As a growing operation continues to expand, the scalable, transportable OpenAlgae systems can be expanded as well.
The result is a portable, flexible, adaptive system for high-efficiency algae oil extraction that reduces energy costs and improves oil yields from existing algae crops.
More than oil
Because the OpenAlgae system avoids dangerous solvents other systems rely upon, the byproducts—water and biomass—are valuable. Once the oil is removed, the waste water can be cleaned and returned to the cultivation system. And, the remaining biomass can be used in a variety of applications as non-toxic, edible or combustible material. OpenAlgae technology is elegant and efficient in ways unprecedented in this industry.