Open Pond Algae Production

The basic premise of using open ponds is that by mimicking the natural environment of algae, commercially profitable amounts of algae can be produced. Unfortunately, there are serious drawbacks with this method that have become apparent.

Open Pond algae Production The first and probably most important issue is the large amount of land required to grow any reasonable amount of algae. Plans to devote thousands (and in some cases hundreds of thousands) of acres for the production of algae are simply not feasible; such land spaces are difficult to come by and it is difficult to justify the cost of such large scale facilities. These installations also fall on the wrong side of the "food versus fuel" debate that is becoming increasingly important in many resource limited regions.

Secondly, algae growth conditions are completely dependent upon local weather patterns and climates. Light exposure and growing temperature simply cannot be controlled to any reasonable degree, thus making it impossible to optimize growth conditions for a variety of algae species. It also becoming apparent that cold weather climates are not suitable for the production of most algae species.

Thirdly, contamination of algae ponds is a huge problem as air-borne contaminating species are free to land in the ponds. Cleaning these large installations is very costly and maintenance shut-downs are difficult to avoid.

Finally, CO2 delivery and diffusion within the water are also difficult to optimize and result in poor growing conditions.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of open pond systems is that they cannot be used for on-site CO2 mitigation. CO2 from industrial sites would need to be pumped or otherwise transported to these algae ponds and distributed within them to feed the algae. This is neither economically feasible nor technically practical in most cases.

Learn about competing Tubular Enclosed Photobioreactors »