BioEnergy Research

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 591–600

Geographical Assessment of Microalgae Biofuels Potential Incorporating Resource Availability

  • Jason C. Quinn
  • Kimberly B. Catton
  • Sara Johnson
  • Thomas H. Bradley

DOI: 10.1007/s12155-012-9277-0

Cite this article as:
Quinn, J.C., Catton, K.B., Johnson, S. et al. Bioenerg. Res. (2013) 6: 591. doi:10.1007/s12155-012-9277-0


Previous assessments of the economic feasibility and large-scale productivity of microalgae biofuels have not considered the impacts of land and carbon dioxide (CO2) availability on the scalability of microalgae-based biofuels production. To accurately assess the near-term productivity potential of large-scale microalgae biofuel in the USA, a geographically realized growth model was used to simulate microalgae lipid yields based on meteorological data. The resulting lipid productivity potential of Nannochloropsis under large-scale cultivation is combined with land and CO2 resource availability illustrating current geographically feasible production sites and corresponding productivity in the USA. Baseline results show that CO2 transport constraints will limit US microalgae-based bio-oil production to 4 % of the 2030 Department of Energy (DOE) alternative fuel goal. The discussion focuses on synthesis of this large-scale productivity potential results including a sensitivity analysis to land and CO2 resource assumptions, an evaluation of previous modeling efforts, and their assumptions regarding the transportation of CO2, the feasibility of microalgae to meet DOE 2030 alternative fuel goals, and a comparison of the productivity potential in several key regions of the USA.


Biofuels GIS Microalgae Model Carbon dioxide 





Carbon dioxide


Department of energy


Geospatial information system

Supplementary material

12155_2012_9277_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.2 mb)
ESM 1(PDF 2.19 mb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason C. Quinn
    • 1
  • Kimberly B. Catton
    • 2
  • Sara Johnson
    • 3
  • Thomas H. Bradley
    • 4
  1. 1.Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Civil and Environmental EngineeringColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Civil and Environmental EngineeringColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Mechanical EngineeringColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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