Algae Progress

Another aspect of my work this summer is obtaining calorimetric values for samples of mainly algae and hydroids.  I am using a Parr 6400 calorimeter, which shows the amount of heat energy contained within a sample in terms of calories per gram.  The top performing algal samples thus far are a type of red algae with an average output of 2052.09 cal/g, while the hydroid samples are our overall top performer with an average output of 3075.88 cal/g.  The algal samples have trouble igniting by themselves in the calorimeter and so a spiking substance, solid benzoic acid, is added as an accelerant.  The calorimeter that I am using is able to account for the heat produced by the benzoic acid and subtract that amount so that the “gross heat” figure given by the calorimeter concluding a test is the heat energy released by the sample.  I would also like to test samples of Enteromorpha before the end of this session.  The other side of this project has been growing algae on our craft and designing/implementing a pulley system to raise the screens on which the algae is growing out of the water for collection and maintenance.  At the moment this craft is still in the boat basin at VIMS but will be deployed before this session is over.


  1. mvpolizzi says:

    What is the amount in terms of percentage that you are finding the red algae versus the hydrous samples versus the other types of algae? How do those energy values compare to other sources of energy?

  2. It is hard to speak to percentages as I have not been involved in a large harvest yet. However, just from being on the craft it appears that most of the growth that we have experienced in Brown and Red algae. These values are much lower than what we would expect to see from current forms of energy but keep in mind that these are preliminary readings for potential raw materials of fuel. These numbers are consistent with samples that consist of largely carbohydrates as opposed to lipids.