From left, USU researchers Jason Quinn, Jeff Moody and Chris McGinty published findings from a global assessment of microalgae productivity potential in a May 2014 online Early Edition of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

From left, USU researchers Jason Quinn, Jeff Moody and Chris McGinty published findings from a global assessment of microalgae productivity potential in a May 2014 online Early Edition of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Biplab Das writes in NatureAsia that researchers from Utah State University (USU) have developed a model that simulates algae growth and their lipid productivity at various global locations using photobioreactors.

To assess the biofuel-generating potential of algae at various global locations, the researchers grew Nannochloropsis­oculata — microalgae found in freshwater and marine systems — in photobioreactors exposed to a constant temperature and ambient light. They simulated the algae growth and lipid content at 4,388 global locations by tweaking the variables hourly according to location-specific metrological data.

“We have found that the algae yielded maximum annual average lipid between 24 and 27 cubic metres per hectare per year for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Australia, Brazil, Colombia and India,” says lead researcher Jason Quinn from USU.

“With year-around sun and mild winters, most of the Middle East countries have access to seawater with plenty of non-arable land for algae cultivation,” says Kourash Salehi-Ashtiani from the New York University in Abu Dhabi.