Use of Cultivation Data from the Algae Testbed Public Private Partnership as Utilized in NREL's Algae State of Technology Assessments

Eric Knoshaug, Lieve Laurens, Christopher Kinchin, Ryan Davis

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The Algae Testbed Public Private Partnership (ATP3) conducted algal growth experiments over the course of 16 months termed the Unified Field Studies (UFS). These experiments were conducted at 5 different geographic locations in Arizona (ASU), California (CP), Florida (FA), Georgia (GT), and Hawaii (CELL). The UFS sought to evaluate different algal biomass harvesting strategies using identical ponds, media, and operational conditions through all four seasons across different geographic regions to isolate the effects on productivity attributed to locational climate and seasonal variability, overlaid by the differing harvest strategies. Set up as the baseline against which other experiments would build upon, it must be emphasized that as per the stated, approved experimental goals of the ATP3 UFS, no attempts at growth or lipid accumulation optimization were made; rather, the primary focus of the UFS work was to cultivate algal biomass under deliberate, consistent conditions, time periods, and harvesting protocols, to provide public data on year-round outdoor biomass production that could be directly compared between one site and another (with accompanying climate data for each site). Thus the resulting productivity numbers in effect represent a conservative baseline of non-optimized algal growth one may expect at these sites. Also clearly weather can vary dramatically from season to season and from year to year, and even within a given 'season' where an individual season's data was typically based on 4-6 week operating windows. Thus these numbers also only reflect a short snapshot in time, and must be interpreted carefully in projecting what may be expected over many years or decades (for example, a 30-year facility lifetime as evaluated in techno-economic models).
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5100-67289


  • algae cultivation
  • algae testbeds
  • algal biomass
  • algal biomass harvesting
  • ATP3


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