Marine Microalgae for Sustainable Production of Food and Fuel (2018-2019)


Climate, energy and food security are three of the greatest challenges we face in this century. Large-scale industrial cultivation of marine microalgae has been shown to be a promising, environmentally-favorable approach for society to meet its climate goals by sustainably coproducing liquid hydrocarbon fuels and protein. Current models, based on the limited available empirical data, have shown that this sustainable coproduction of food and fuel is approaching economic feasibility. Emerging data from Duke, which leads the Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC), will dramatically help to advance these predictions if they are combined with a forward-looking economic and life cycle analysis.

Project Description

Leverage structures and resources from MAGIC, this Bass Connections project will:

  • Provide an integrated assessment of the algal productivity performed by the MAGIC team at the Duke Marine Lab to better understand the factors that regulate production
  • Incorporate refined algae productivity measurements into existing life cycle analyses and technoeconomic analyses models
  • Apply the refined life cycle and technoeconomic analyses models at potential algae biofuel production sites to better estimate economic and environmental costs for different geographic locations and to gauge critical needs for future studies.

The team will compile data and a production assessment report, produce working models and write a report on model outputs.

Anticipated Outcomes

Assimilation of data, report on that data, working life cycle and technoeconomic models, report on model output, summary publication


Summer 2018 – Spring 2019  

  • Summer 2018: May through August, selected undergraduate and master’s students participate in algae production measurement and assessment at Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort; one-week workshop in August with all team members to assimilate and assess production data; develop refined plan for additional assessment and incorporation into TEA/LCA
  • Fall 2018: Biweekly meetings to coordinate incorporation of production model into LCA/TEA
  • Spring 2019: Biweekly meetings to coordinate application of model into TEA/LCA to model geographic regions; report

Team Leaders

  • Zackary Johnson, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • Courtney Swink, Nicholas School - Marine Science and Conservation-PHD

/graduate Team Members

  • Edmond Kong, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment
  • Sarah Loftus, Ecology-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Serene Cheng, Biology (BS)
  • Ashley Meuser, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)
  • Annie Roberts, Environmental Sciences (BS)
  • Sabrina Tran, Biomedical Engineering (BSE), Mechanical Engineering (BSE2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Mark Huntley, Duke Marine Lab
  • Dalia Patino Echeverri, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy
  • Bailey Slagle, Marine Lab-Postdoctoral Associate

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Susan Brown, University of Hawaii
  • Brian Goodall, Valicor
  • Jordan D. Kern, UNC
  • Xingen Lie, Cornell
  • Schonna Manning, University of Texas
  • Donald Redalje, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Deborah Sills, Bucknell University
  • Nigel Tait, Shell
  • Leda Van Doren, UNC
  • Kiron Viswanath, Nord University, Norway
  • Michael Walsh, Boston University