Best Siting for Algae Biofuel Farms


Project Goals

This project is concerned with best siting for algae farms for use in biofuel production. Although to date the regions utilized are mostly chosen because of their high levels of insolation (a requirement for growing algae for biofuel), considering other factors could possibly lead to better sitings of farms. Many recent developments in algae farming technology use pre-existing infrastructure to increase fuel output. Such infrastructure includes wastewater and sewage treatment plants and carbon dioxide emitters. Both these types of installations emit nutrients that can be used in algae production. Additionally, rather than produce the fuel in areas located far away from consumers, as currently occurs when it is grown in rural, desert environments, taking the locations of highways and electrical transmission lines into consideration could also lead to different ideas of best-practice siting for algae farms.


Project Steps

Data Layers

Insolation data, raster – (NREL)

Sewage treatment plants, point – (FGDL)

Wastewater treatment plants, point – (FGDL)

Carbon dioxide emitters, database – (Project Vulcan)

Transmission lines, arc – (FGDL)

Highways, arc – (FGDL)

Florida counties, polygon – (FGDL)

Step 1: Convert all data into usable formats

A)     Define projection of insolation raster to match FGDL projection

  1. Clip dataset to fit shape of Florida

B)    Use the Join Attribute function to attach mass of CO2 in each county from Project Vulcan data to county data

Step 2: Develop ranking suitability

A)     Use select by location and buffer > intersect/union overlay to generate ranking values

  1. Use Geoprocessing Environment Settings to establish raster extent

B)    Use ranking values to create ranking suitability raster, indicating best sites for algae biofuel production

Step 3: Produce maps

A)     Individual maps of the following

  1. Insolation
  2. Production infrastructure (wastewater and sewage plants, CO2 emitters)
  3. Distribution infrastructure (highways, transmission lines)

B)    Ranking suitability raster