Biofuel production, digestate purification and CO2 sequestration

BIO-RPISM is a three-year project funded by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), RD&D Funding Programme 2018. BIO-RPISM aims at developing novel technologies for selecting and cultivating highly productive auto-floating microalgae for large scale microalgal biofuels production, in conjunction with digestate purification and CO2 bio-fixation. The feasibility of the project has been justified with preliminary study. An indigenous, highly productive auto-floating microalga – Tribonema sp. has been successfully enriched, which showed high lipids productivity in digestate. In addition, this alga also has a very high carbohydrates productivity, which provide further opportunity for integrated production of biofuels (biodiesel and bioethanol/biobutanol) in a biorefinery approach.

This project will thoroughly explore its potential through fundamental research (growth and lipids accumulation characteristics in digestate), process development (photo-bioreactor, raceway pond system) and optimization, meso-scale demonstration, and technoeconomic & environmental sustainability analysis. The project will constitute a substantial step towards the industrial implementation of algal biofuels by addressing several major challenges (harvesting, contamination, nutrient and CO2 supply) in large scale algal biofuels production. It will also contribute to the development of biogas industry by providing a cost-effective digestate treatment solution.

The project has high relevance to the Irish policy landscape and could in time contribute to GHG reductions in agriculture and transport sectors, two of the most problematic sectors from a climate target perspective. This project will further strengthen Ireland’s renowned capacity in sustainable bioenergy and will help the country to fulfil its strategic goal of transition to a low emission, sustainable and climate resilient economy and society.