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


University Expertise Department or Position
Ashvini Chauhan FAMU 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 FAU Marine biology and ecology; Macroalgae (seaweeds) and seagrasses; Water quality with seagrass and with algal communities (both benthic seaweeds and phytoplankton Research Professor, Marine Botany
J. William Louda FAU 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 Research Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Peter McCarthy FAU 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, Microbiology
George P. Philippidis USF Cellulosic and algal biofuel and bioproduct technology development and commercialization; biomass-to-power commercial projects Associate Professor,

Patel College of Global Sustainability, Director of Sustainable Energy

Bill Cooper FSU Composition, structure and biogeochemical reactivity of natural organic matter (NOM) Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Mike Watts FSU Reclamation of “high-strength” waste streams Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Rick Feiock FSU Local governance; Institutional choice; Economic development; Environmental regulation Professor, Augustus B. Turnbull Professor & The Jerry Collins Eminent Scholar Chair

Director, Local Governance Research Lab

Bill Self UCF Biofuels Associate Director of Undergraduate Affairs & Associate Professor
Ali Raissi UCF/FSEC Biomass energy conversion Director, Advanced Energy Research Division
Nazim Muradov UCF/FSEC Biomass-derived fuels Research Professor, Advanced Energy Research, Florida Solar Energy Center
Ann Wilkie UF 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 Research Professor, Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology, Soil and Water Science
Ed Phlips UF 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
Mark A. Jamison UF 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 UF 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 Professor, Department of Quantitative Genetics
Melanie J. Correll UF Plant Bioreactors; Downstream Processing; Gene Expression; Modeling Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Pratap Pullammanappallil UF Process design, modelling, optimization and control with applications in fuel production. Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Theodore Kury UF Research and outreach activities in energy regulation and policy Director of Energy Studies, Public Utility Research Center
Wendy Graham UF 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 and Water Institute Director
Dale Casamatta UNF Algal ecology and systematics (cyanobacteria) Professor, Graduate Coordinator, Department of Biology
Abdul Malik USF Analytical Separations; Sample Preparation Techniques Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Aydin Sunol USF Recovery of oil from harvested algae; Downstream processing Professor, Chemical Engineering
Daniel Yeh USF Membrane and biological processes for water purification; Wastewater treatment and reuse; Energy recovery Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Pratyusha Basu USF Rural Geographies; Development; Agricultural Livelihoods; Environmental Social Movements Associate Professor, 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.