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.

Read More:


WSU Researcher helping turn Algae to Fuel

PULLMAN, Wash.—There are a lot of things standing in the way of Shulin Chen’s quest to make energy from algae, the simple, light-loving organisms we usually associate with pond scum, seaweed and deck slime.

But in a world of rising greenhouse gases and dwindling energy options, he’s forging ahead.

“We don’t have other choices,” said Chen, a professor of biological systems engineering. “We have to do it. We make progress one step at a time but I believe eventually we’re going to have a biofuel industry using algae. We have to. There’s little other option.”

His effort took a significant step towards reality this week with word of a $2 million federal appropriation to develop energy-rich algae, the technology to grow them all year, and a way to convert them into fuel and other products. The funding was secured with the help of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., through the 2010 Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations bill and will go to the Washington State Algae Alliance, comprised of WSU, Targeted Growth Inc. of Seattle and Inventure Chemical of Gig Harbor.

As a potential fuel source, microalgae are hard to beat. They grow fast, doubling their mass several times a day. They take up a fraction of the space required to grow other biofuels. And loaded with fat, they are the fried-cheese of the biofuel world.

“The idea of fuel from algae is accepted,” said Chen. “The challenge is to make it work.”

For now, it’s too expensive to produce algae-based fuel—the equivalent of $10- to $30-a-gallon gas.

The solar energy they use is free, but they also require water and fertilizer. An algae production system also needs energy to pump water, carbon-dioxide and nutrients while removing wastes. Those processes right now use a lot more energy than algae produces, said Chen.

Still, he says, there’s no choice but to make algae work.

“With electricity, we have alternative sources,” Chen said. “We can do hydropower. We can do solar energy. We can do wind energy. But liquid transportation fuel is something where we don’t have other options. We have to get that from biomass, either from crop residues or algae. Crop residues are a good source but limited. Algae has the highest potential.”

Demand for algae-based fuel is likely to be driven first by the need to capture carbon dioxide, the most abundant global-warming gas, from producers like coal plants. Development could also be supported by algae byproducts—proteins and polysaccharides that can be used in feed or health-oriented foods and supplements called “nutraceuticals.” These can help drive production costs down until other energy costs rise to make large-scale fuel production worthwhile.

Chen, who has patents pending on several algae culture, harvesting and nutrient-recycling systems, plans to use the federal money to improve ways to produce and process algae. He says WSU is currently one of the major players among universities in this relatively new field.

“The money we’re receiving will put us one step up,” he said, “and make us a lot more competitive to become a leader in this area.”

Read More:

Algae Oil Extraction Chemical Methods PPT EBook Download


Bioremediation of piggery wastewaters

Long-term operation of high rate algal ponds for the bioremediation of piggery wastewaters at high loading rates.

$1.3 billion for 19 Biorefinery projects

Among the top grantees are California’s BlueFire Ethanol Fuels and Sapphire Energy. BlueFire will receive increased funding of $81 million to aid construction of its Fulton, Mississippi ethanol facility.

The plant produces ethanol fuel from woody biomass, mill residue, and assorted municipal solid waste. Once complete, the facility will have the capacity to produce 19 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Sapphire Energy won a $50 million grant to support its work in Columbus, New Mexico, where it will cultivate algae in ponds that will ultimately be converted into green fuels, such as jet fuel and diesel. Ineos New Planet BioEnergy and Montréal’s Enerkem will also receive $50 million each.

The Ineos New Planet BioEnergy project will produce ethanol and electricity from wood, vegetative residues, and construction and demolition materials. Its Vero Beach, Florida facility will combine biomass gasification and fermentation and is slated to have the capacity to produce 8 million gallons of ethanol and 2 megawatts of electricity per year by the end of 2011.

Heating oil industry makeover

Many farmers have started to grow a “next-generation biofuel” like algae. In fact, many are talking up algae as a major potential source of energy; some have forecasted that algae could produce 5,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre, a much higher rate of return than other biofuels. If algae does become a primary energy source, this would almost certainly have an effect on heating oil. Many states, as well as the industry’s major trade group, will require heating oil to have a percentage of biofuel in its mix.

Bio fuels can change the scene in the heating oil industry.

Read More:

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.

Read More: