Royal Dutch Shell backs Biofuels

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has roughly doubled its financial support for biofuels start-up Codexis Inc. in the past year, the latest sign that oil companies are slowly and selectively increasing their interest in plants-to-fuels research.

Shell is on pace to spend $60 million in 2009 to fund research at Codexis, nearly twice the amount as the year before, according to regulatory filings. Codexis filed paperwork this week for a $100 initial public offering. The start-up is developing microbes to speed up the chemical reactions that turn inedible plants, such as grasses or stalks, into ethanol and diesel.

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Aurora Biofuels leases Algae ponds

Aquacarotene Ltd,Perth based company said it had agreed to sell its leases and licences at its algae ponds in Karratha to US-based Aurora Biofuels for $2 million plus a 15-year gross revenue royalty of 2 per cent.

California-based Aurora would now start a pilot project at Karratha. It planned that construction of a full facility would happen by 2012 and the full project to produce algae for bio-diesel would be operational by 2013.

Keen interest in algae fuels grows.

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Algae fueled shuttle at Copenhagen

Honeywell’s UOP and Solazyme have partnered to demonstrate an advanced biofuel derived from algae at the Copenhagen’s Transportation showcase. An algae-fueled vehicle is shuttling journalists to and from summit events.

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Algenol Biofuels gets a grant of $ 25m reports that Algenol Biofuels Inc., a company that makes ethanol out of algae and is working with Lee County to develop a presence in Florida, received a $25 million federal grant to build a biorefinery.

Algenol CEO Paul Woods made the announcement during a presentation in Fort Myers. While the refinery will be built in Freeport, Texas, Woods said he is working with Lee County commissioner Ray Judah and economic development office director Jim Moore to establish itself in the county and create jobs. The idea is to firmly establish Lee County as the headquarters for the company and create a test pilot project here.

Algae Fuel gets Boost from Endicott Biofuels and TransAlgae MOU

Endicott Biofuels, LLC, a Houston-based, next-generation biodiesel producer, and TransAlgae, Ltd., an algal biotechnology company, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of algae as a potential transportation fuel and renewable chemical feedstock source.

The memorandum gains significant importance,when we consider DOE’s National Algal Biofuel Technolgy Roadmap stating’ In the longer term, biofuels derived from algae represent an opportunity to dramatically impact the U.S. energy supply for transportation fuels’ TransAlgae’s mission is to develop commercially viable algae strains for a variety of algae biomass growth platforms in order to deliver cost effective transportation fuels as well as other non-energy applications Endicott has been involved in a fully flexible feedstock development program for the production of biodiesel, which includes algae oil-to-biodiesel commercialization.

Among its future development plans are technologies that provide a higher degree of freedom for algae producers in algae strain selection and algae oil extraction for the production of biofuels. Labels: Endicott Biofuels- TransAlgae- algae oil-to-biodiesel commercialization.


NRDC’s Road Map to Algae BioFuel

NRDC’s recent technical report lays out the big picture steps needed to make algae biofuels a viable option:

1. Providing a framework for comprehensive environmental analysis of algae biofuels

2. Identifying key ecological issues to be considered across all stages of production

3. Summarizing the known and unknown environmental impacts of each production process

4. Recommending areas of future research and action

Their findings show that it is vital, working with stakeholders across business and non-business sectors, to develop a clear picture of the environmental pros and cons of algae biofuel systems.


Capturing sunlight into a Photobioreactor

The Green Solar Collector (GSC), a photobioreactor designed for area efficient outdoor cultivation of microalgae uses Fresnel lenses and light guides to focus, transport and distribute direct light into the algae suspension. Calculating the path of rays of light, so-called ray tracing, is used to determine local light intensities inside the photobioreactor based on the focused rays of sunlight.

Reflection and refraction of the propagating rays of sunlight from point of focus to refraction into the photobioreactor is calculated. Refraction out of smooth and sandblasted distributor surfaces is simulated. For the sandblasted surface a specific structure is assumed and corresponding reflection and refraction patterns are described by a 2-dimensional modeling approach. Results of the simulations are validated by measurements on real light guide surfaces. The validated model is used to determine the influence of the solar angle on the uniformity and efficiency of light distribution over the light distributor surface.

The simulations show that efficient capturing of sunlight and redistribution inside the algal biomass can be achieved in the Green Solar Collector at higher elevation angles of the sun, making the Green Solar Collector suitable for operation at low latitudes with a high level of direct irradiance.