Prospects for Algal Biofuels in UAE: Technology and Economics

  • Khalid Rashid

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The demand for energy is increasing in the world daily with fossil fuels currently providing most of this energy. These resources are finite and are not sustainable, leading to interest in finding a renewable and sustainable source for transportation fuels. Biofuels from algae can be part of a solution to this problem. Climatic conditions in UAE are favorable for algae growth. Accordingly the major objective of the research in this thesis was to examine the economic and technical feasibility for manufacture of biofuels from algae in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. A native strain of algae was isolated from an inland lake in Abu Dhabi. Conditions for the maximum growth rate in a laboratory-scale photobioreactor were explored and found to be at a temperature of 22 °C with 3% CO2 added to the feed gas stream. Growth rate for the native strain, when compared to other two other well-known strains (Nanochloropsis Salina and Dunaliella sp) was found to be much slower with a doubling time more than two-fold higher. The lipid content and protein content of the native algae strain were found to decrease and increase respectively with increasing addition of CO2 suggesting an economic tradeoff. An economic feasibility study for production of ‘green diesel' with co-production of a high-protein product indicates that the overall economics of and commercial potential for the manufacture of biofuels from this organism are not promising given current market conditions for fuels.
Date of Award2013
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorRobert M. Baldwin (Supervisor)


  • Algal Biofuels; Biodiesel; Fossil Fuels; United Arab Emirates; Abu Dhabi; Green Diesel.

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