Skip to Main Content

Sustainability Learning Lab at Bellevue University: Algae Pond

Open Pond System

Open ponds can range from small solitary ponds to acres of them on algae farms. They are shallow, about a foot or so deep, and use natural solar radiation (sunlight) to convert algae into biomass. They may use paddle wheels, or some other system, to keep the water circulating. Harvesting is done daily and is often a two step process. A small amount of the pond water is harvested and the algae biomass is concentrated. From there, oil can be extracted for conversion into biofuel. The entire biomass, or its residue, can also be dried and used as animal feed.

The algae pond at Bellevue university will be mainly for research and not for the purpose of producing biofuel.  Students will be involved in the daily maintenance.  In the winter, the algae will be brought inside and fed corn stover, a waste product left in fields of harvested corn.


Commercial algae ponds are often referred to as raceway ponds because of their resemblance to a racetrack. Click to see more about Open Pond Systems.

Quick Links

Algae Ponds

Algae are simple plants that can range from the microscopic (microalgae), to large seaweeds (macroalgae), such as giant kelp more than one hundred feet in length. Microalgae include both cyanobacteria, (similar to bacteria, and formerly called “blue-green algae”) as well as green, brown and red algae. (There are more varieties of microalgae, but these are the main ones.)

Algae are emerging to be one of the most promising long-term, sustainable sources of biomass and oils for fuel, food, feed, and other co-products. There are many benefits to growing algae:

  • Algae Grow Fast
  • Algae Can Have High Biofuel Yields
  • Algae Consume CO2
  • Algae Do Not Compete With Agriculture
  • Microalgal Biomass Can Be Used for Fuel, Feed and Food
  • Macroalgae Can Be Grown in the Sea
  • Algae Can Purify Wastewaters
  • Algal Biomass Can Be Used as an Energy Source
  • Algae Can Be Used to Produce Many Useful Products
  • The Algae Industry is a Job Creation EngineSource:

Source:  All About Algae Website

The Sustainability Learning Lab will use the Open Pond System (similar to the example below) to grow algae, which is the most common system.


Image source: Building Open Ponds: by David Sieg

The 1,200 square foot open algae pond will be state of the art with a web linked monitoring system. Students will create biofuels out of pond algae which will be grown outdoors in the warm months. In the winter, students will extract sugars from stover (corn waste left in the field after harvest) to feed to the algae which will in turn make lipids that can be turned into biofuel. According to Dr. John Kyndt, "It’s mainly for research purposes. We are trying to optimize the process. What types of algae species can do best indoors and outdoors? Which ones make the most lipids, makes the most biodiesel? What can we feed them?”

Construction of the algae pond is underway right outside the greenhouse next to the native plants garden.


June 2021 - under construction

Algae Resources

Videos from Library Databases

Online Videos

LibGuide Curator

Need help? Ask a Librarian!