Algal Biofuels

Expertise and Resources

The consortium faculty has been involved in growing, harvesting, and processing algae for over 30 years. There are more than 25 faculty members engaged in algae related research within the consortium providing specialized skill sets. The algae research encompasses every aspect of technical development of freshwater and marine algae. The research includes identifying and optimizing algal species to maximize fuel quality and production, utilization of waste water as a source for renewable algae nutrients, genetic engineering to maximize lipid, hydrocarbon and carbohydrate content and yield. In addition, the consortium has expertise in downstream algae processing to extract value added products from algae. The consortium works in consort with the Genetic Institute and the Water Institute which is a great resource for algae researchers in the areas of water usage, ecology, environmental impacts, policy, and human behavior.

Research Areas

The research and development efforts can be focused to bring solutions to the critical scientific and technical issues to make the commercial-scale algal biofuels production a reality.

Biology Based Research

Strain characterization and functional analysis

Strain development, improvement, genetic transformation

Fresh water, brackish/marine algae growth

Photosynthesis and solar conversion efficiency improvements

Algae lipid production (maximizing sustainability, quality and yield)

Algae hydrocarbon production (maximizing sustainability, quality and yield)

Algae carbohydrate production (maximizing sustainability, quality and yield)

Waste water as nutrient

Value Added Research

CO2 sequestration



Other value added products

Process Research

Algal growth and mass cultivation

System design and engineering

Bioreactor Engineering

Reactor design


Ponds v.s. photobioreactors

Environmental Assurance

Water requirements and conservation

Managing ecological impacts

Optimization of open pond systems

Control of competitors, grazers, and pathogens

Post-harvesting and Processing

Separation, extraction

Extraction via supercritical fluid technology

Gasification, pyrolysis

Economics and Process Analysis

Process analysis

Life cycle analysis

Resource and siting analysis

Water usage and process water handling

Feasibility analysis


Regulatory issues

Education and Outreach

Consortium’s outreach network (extension offices in all FL counties)

Consortium’s energy education









Core Faculty




Department or Position

Ashvini Chauhan


Environmental microbiota in both, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; Probable number estimates (MPNs); Community level physiological profiling (CLPP) coupled with molecular tools based on the SSU rDNA analyses such as molecular cloning, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE)

Associate Professor

Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory

Fredric Humphries Science Research Center

Dennis Hanisak


Marine biology and ecology; Macroalgae (seaweeds) and seagrasses; Water quality with seagrass and with algal communities (both benthic seaweeds and phytoplankton

Research Professor

J. William Louda


Effect of light (photon flux density, PFD) on pigment ratios; Pigment contents per cell; Pigment-based chemotaxonomy ; Algal growth and biomass to pigment ratios; Managing ecological impacts

Senior Scientist, Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Environmental Sciences Program

Peter McCarthy


Strain development and cultivation (19,000 isolates); Harvesting and extraction; Accumulation of intermediates and synthesis of fuels and co- products; Life-cycle and economic analyses

Research Professor

George P. Philippidis


Cellulosic and algal biofuel and bioproduct technology development and commercialization; biomass-to-power commercial projects

Associate Professor, Sustainable Energy

Patel College of Global Sustainability

Bill Cooper


Composition, structure and biogeochemical reactivity of natural organic matter (NOM)

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Rick Feiock


Local governance; Institutional choice; Economic development; Environmental regulation

Professor, Askew School of Public Administration; Director, Program in Local Governance

Bill Self



Associate Professor, Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Ali Raissi


Biomass energy conversion

Director, Advanced Energy Research Division

Nazim Muradov


Biomass-derived fuels

Principal Research Scientist, Florida Solar Energy Center

Ann Wilkie


Bioprospecting; Biotechnology; Anaerobic processes; Microbial and environmental factors; Renawable energy production from biomass and bio-organic residues Biotechnology; Anaerobic processes; Microbial and environmental factors; Renawable energy production from biomass and bio-organic residues

Associate Professor, Soil and Water Science

Ed Phlips


Aquatic ecosystems; Ecology of plankton communities; Strain development, improvement, genetic transformation; Toxic algae research program in both freshwater and marine ecosystems

Professor, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Guy Charles


Responses of plants to abiotic environmental stresses; Cold, freezing, and heat stress tolerance in plants; Plant physiology, molecular biology and plant metabolism

Professor of Environmental Horticulture, Department of Environmental Horticulture, Plant Molecular & Cellular Biology Program

Lynne E. Holt


Infrastructure regulatory issues, public education policy, economic development, and tax policy

Policy Analyst, Public Utility Research Center

Mark A. Jamison


Business strategy and government policies; Network and information industries in an international context; Network ownership and entrepreneurship; Strategic choices in network connectivity; Effects of public and private ownership; Best practices in regulatory policy; Leadership in public policy

Director, Public Utility Research Center

Mathias Kirst


Fundamental Genomic Research in the genetic regulation of gene expression and gene expression networks; Applied Genomic Research for the discovery of genes, metabolic and regulatory networks; Technology and genomic tool development

Associate Professor, Department of Quantitative Genetics

Melanie J. Correll


Plant Bioreactors; Downstream Processing; Gene Expression; Modeling

Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Pratap Pullammanappallil


Process design, modelling, optimization and control with applications in fuel production.

Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Theodore Kury


Research and outreach activities in energy regulation and policy

Director of Energy Studies, Public Utility Research Center

Wendy Graham


Subsurface flow and solute transport modeling; groundwater resources evaluation and remediation; evaluation of impacts of agricultural production on surface and groundwater quality; evaluation of impacts of climate variability and climate change on water resources ; stochastic modeling and data assimilation

Carl S. Swisher Chair, in Water Resources, Director

Dale Casamatta


Algal ecology and systematics (cyanobacteria)

Professor, Graduate Coordinator, Department of Biology

Abdul Malik


Analytical Separations; Sample Preparation Techniques

Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

Aydin Sunol


Recovery of oil from harvested algae; Downstream processing

Professor, Chemical Engineering

Daniel Yeh


Membrane and biological processes for water purification; Wastewater treatment and reuse; Energy recovery

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Pratyusha Basu


Rural Geographies; Development; Agricultural Livelihoods; Environmental Social Movements

Department of Geography







































































Infrastructure, Facilities, and Other

  • Algae culture collection of approximately 100 uni-algal isolates of freshwater and marine algae from Florida waters. In addition, culture collections of diatoms, dinoflagellates, cryptophytes, chlorophytes and picocyanobacteria.
  • Extensive capabilities for the study of algal genetics, including DNA and RNA extraction and PCR analyses
  • Close working relationship with the Genetics Institute at the University of Florida, which provides the highest level of expertise and facilities for genetic engineering and gene sequencing
  • Sterile transfer chambers, medium size environmentally controlled grow out rooms, a semi-large scale indoor culture facility (fifteen 100 liter culture tanks), and access to outdoor culture tanks and ponds (Facility is approved by the University of Florida Health and Safety Office)
  • Small-scale reactors to 200-liter vessels for growing and harvesting algae
  • 4 large temperature- controlled incubators, a walk-in climate controlled chamber, several photobioreactors (~100-200 liter), state-of-the-art epifluorescent compound and inverted microscopes, a laminar flow hood
  • Several refrigerated high speed centrifuges for harvesting of algae and a full analytical lab capable of extraction of chemical constituents of algae, including gas chromatography and dual-beam scanning spectrophotometer
  • Fully equipped lab for all photosynthetic pigment analyses: chlorophylls, carotenoids, sunscreen pigments (scytonemins) and phycobiliproteins. In addition, 4 (four) quaternary HPLC systems with full spectral photodiode array detectors (2 each Waters 990 and 996 units), Thermo Separation Products Autosystem with dual wavelength detection (Waters 490E), 2 (two) low pressure HPLC systems used for prep and semi-prep isolation of larger quantities (mg) of pigments, Scanning spectrophotometers, a Turner TD-700 fluorometer, and a Perkin-Elmer LS-50B luminescence / fluorescence spectrometer
  • Extensive microscope facilities
  • SEM/TEM facility
  • GC-Mass Spec., GCs, GC-MS, HPLC, IC, TG/DTA, DSC, FTIR/pyroprobe and capability to perform particle size distribution
  • Fuel testing and standardization
  • Life-cycle and economic analyses, siting, and resources management Accumulation of intermediates and synthesis of fuels and co- products
  • Plant design and economic analysis capability via ASPEN-PLUS and H2A.


Industrial Collaboration and Technology Commercialization

  • Industrial partnerships providing the ability to scale up
  • A focus on technology commercialization including dedicated programs for business plan development, market studies, and funded university/industry joint R&D programs targeted to foster commercialization.