Microalgae as substrates for fermentative biogas production in a combined biorefinery concept
Most organic matter can be used for bioenergy generation via anaerobic fermentation. Today, crop plants like maize play the dominant role as substrates for renewable biogas production. In this work we investigated the suitability of six dominant microalgae species (freshwater and saltwater algae and cyanobacteria) as alternative substrates for biogas production. We could demonstrate that the biogas potential is strongly dependent on the species and on the pretreatment. Fermentation of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was efficient with a production of 587 ml (±8.8 SE) biogas g volatile solids−1 (VS−1), whereas fermentation of Scenedesmus obliquus was inefficient with only 287 ml (±10.1 SE) biogas g VS−1 being produced. Drying as a pretreatment decreased the amount of biogas production to ca. 80%. The methane content of biogas from microalgae was 7–13% higher compared to biogas from maize silage. To evaluate integrative biorefinery concepts, hydrogen production in C. reinhardtii prior to anaerobic fermentation of the algae biomass was measured and resulted in an increase of biogas generation to 123% (±3.7 SE). We conclude that selected algae species can be good substrates for biogas production and that anaerobic fermentation can seriously be considered as final step in future microalgae-based biorefinery concepts.
Journal: Journal of Biotechnology - Volume 150, Issue 1, 1 October 2010, Pages 51–56