Algae in South Australia

THE U.S. parent company of uranium producer Heathgate Resources has held talks with the State Government over developing a renewable energy fuel in South Australia – from algae.

Premier Mike Rann met for an hour yesterday with Neal Blue, the chief executive officer of General Atomics, which owns the Beverley uranium deposits in SA’s Far North.

Mr Blue said his company was interested in developments in microalgal biofuels in SA because there was huge potential for their use in the future – especially in the aviation industry.

Mr Blue said at least one U.S. commercial airline had already tested biofuels in a passenger flight across America. He said SA was highly placed to develop algal fuels because of its high sunlight, brackish water and carbon dioxide.

Mr Rann said algal biofuel was attractive because of its relatively high oil yield and its efficiency in recycling carbon.

“It is estimated that replacing just 10 per cent of Australia’s mineral diesel with biodiesel from microalgae would bring about a reduction of nearly 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels,” he said.

The Federal Government recently granted $2.7 million to an SA-based consortium to develop a pilot-scale biorefinery for sustainable microalgal biofuels and added products.

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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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Designer Algae for photobiological hydrogen production

Read: http://bit.ly/62eV4V

Alliance Optimises Algae Fuel Search

The Washington State Algae Alliance, comprised of bioscience firm Targeted Growth, Inc. (TGI), Inventure Chemical (Inventure) and Washington State University (WSU), will benefit from $2 million in funding through WSU as part of the 2010 Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations bill.

The Alliance has three objectives: First, to develop an efficient and integrated algae cultivation system for the production of fuel and other products; second, to build first class capabilities; and third, to advance related science and technologies. These objectives align with initiatives identified in the National Algae Fuel Roadmap developed by the US Department of Energy.

Each partner in the Alliance is responsible for developing a specific link in the value chain. Targeted Growth will focus on the development and optimization of strains of cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae, to yield high levels of lipid and other products, while reducing needed inputs and ultimately driving down costs.

WSU will develop advanced phototrophic (light) and heterotrophic (nutrient) bioreactors and harvesting technology to enable cost-efficient, year-round growth of the algal strains developed by TGI. After the algal biomass is harvested, it will be sent to Seattle-based Inventure for conversion into fuel and other valuable products such as renewable chemicals.

“By closely coordinating the algal species selection with the production and refining technologies, we will be able to optimize the entire process, leading to higher quality products at a lower cost,” said Mark Tegen, CEO of Inventure Chemical.

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PetroSun launches First US commercial scale Algae farm for Biofuel

In Texas, PetroSun will open the first US commercial-scale algae farm for biofuels near South Padre Island. The 1,831 acre site includes 157 separate ponds, and the company said that extraction of algae from water and oil from algae were studied and solved at the company’s pilot farm in Opelika, Alabama. PetroSun said that results from the pilot farm demonstrated a yield of between 5,000 and 8,000 gallons per acre, or a potential oil production of 9-15 Mgy at the South Padre Island facility.

Algae-based research and development continues to pick up in pace, even though the US Defense Department is estimating that the current production cost of algae oil exceeds $20 per gallon.

Recent developments include:

Netherlands, AlgaeLink announced a new process for extracting algae without using chemicals, drying or an oil press. The company said that its patent-pending technique uses 26 kilowatts of power to produce 12,000 gallons of algae oil per hour, with a yield of 50 percent from the initial algae paste.

In Texas, the state’s Emerging Technology Fund will provide $4 million to Texas AgriLife Research and General Atomics
to conduct microalgae research and development.

In Virginia, researchers at Old Dominion University have successfully piloted a project to produce biodiesel feedstock by growing algae at municipal sewage treatment plants. The pilot project is producing up to 70,000 gallons of biodiesel per year.

In Minnesota, Xcel Energy has pledged $150,000 to assist in funding an algae to biodiesel research project sponsored by the University and the Metropolitan Council.

The US Department of Energy recently partnered with Chevron in a research effort to develop higher-yield strains of micro algae.  The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on a project with Honeywell, General Electric and the University of North Dakota.

In Texas, US Sustainable Energy is awaiting lab results from a test of biocrude production using 20 pounds of algae as a feedstock. The company recently ran its initial test of 20 pounds of 5% oil-content algae feedstock with 40 percent water content, and resulted in an ignitable oil product. This is just the tip of the iceberg.A lot more action is expected in the future.

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NASA Ames Pilot Project in Florida

In California, researchers with the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field are advancing in plans to deploy an ocean-based algal fuels platform. The OMEGA project deploys flexible floating plastic bags, up to a quater-acre in size – pumped with wastewater and then cleansed and harvested by barges every ten days.

The bags would release purified water via membranes on the sids of the quarter-acre bags. The project, which has received support from Google, the California Energy Commission, and NASA, is aiming towards a pilot-scale version in closed ponds, with locations near San Francisco and Santa Cruz in future deployments.

Nevada-based Algae Systems has licensed the technology and is developing a project in Tampa Bay, Florida. Looks like Omega project is drawing a lot of attention.

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NASA Ames Research Center makes biofuel from wastewater

NASA has thrown its weight behind a clever method of growing algae in wastewater for the purpose of making biofuel.onathan Trent, a bioengineer at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif comments that the forward-osmosis membranes OMEGA only release fresh water into the ocean, and dont permit salty water to contaminate the bags.

Such a process would mainly rely on the energy of the ocean waves to mix the algae, as well as sunlight and carbon dioxide. The offshore locations and the wide oceans would also have more than enough room to grow massive amounts of algae needed to produce biofuels for an energy-hungry world.

One possible future plan would combine the algae-growth system with a gigantic offshore wind farm being built by Germany, Sweden and Denmark. Wind power could then provide lights to keep algae growing underwater and during the nighttime hours – a fitting vision for the sustainable future of spaceship Earth.

Its renewable carbon negative fuel from algae making use of sunlight,sewage and co2 – a solution for today’s problem.

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