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Thursday, December 20

Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels

Rebecca Efroymson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge
Center for Bioenergy Sustainability Seminar
3:30 PM — 5:00 PM, Environmental Sciences Division Building (ESD), Building 1505, Room 189
Contact: Jennifer Smith (, 865.574.8452


Algal biofuels are under development and include a variety of organisms (e.g., microalgae and cyanobacteria) and a variety of production systems (open ponds and photobioreactors) in a variety of regions of the U.S. In October of this year, The National Research Council completed a report on the Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels in the United States. The speaker was a member of this committee. The report identifies potential environmental and (to a lesser extent) social sustainability concerns related to algal biofuels. Concerns of high importance include the large quantity of water required for cultivation, the supply of key nutrients for algal growth (N, P, CO2), suitable land area, energy return on investment, and net greenhouse gas emissions. Potential mitigation actions are described, and sustainability indicators are proposed. Commercial scale development is emphasized. This seminar and discussion will summarize the findings of the report, as well as providing updates on research related to algal biofuels at ORNL.