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.

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.

Exxon to spend more than $600m on Algae

ExxonMobil believes that biofuels from photosynthetic algae could someday play an important role in meeting the world’s growing need for transportation fuels, while also reducing CO2 emissions.

In July 2009, we announced a significant new project to research and develop algae biofuels. Our partner is Synthetic Genomics Inc (SGI), a California-based biotech firm founded by genome research pioneer Dr. J. Craig Venter.

The goal of the program: to produce a commercially scalable, renewable algae-based fuel compatible with today’s gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Why algae? Scientists already know that certain algae naturally produce oils similar to the petroleum products we use today.

If commercial quantities of these algae-based oils could be developed, they could avoid the need to build the extensive new delivery infrastructure that some other alternative transportation fuels might require.

Algae-based biofuels have potential environmental advantages. Through photosynthesis, algae absorb CO2 – the main greenhouse gas – and convert it to useful products, like oils and oxygen. As a result, fuels made from algae could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Algae-based biofuels likely would not impact the global food supply. While biofuels made from plants like corn and sugar cane are an expanding energy source, they require fertile land and fresh water; algae can be grown using land and water unsuitable for plant or food production.

Algae also could yield between three and eight times more biofuel per acre compared to other biofuel sources. Getting these algae fuels from the lab to broad, commercial scale at the local gas station will be a tremendous undertaking – and could require decades of work.

It is an exciting project that brings together SGI’s expertise in genomics, synthetic biology, microbiology and biochemistry; and ExxonMobil’s expertise in transportation fuels and the development of technologies and systems needed to increase scale from concept phase to large-scale manufacturing.

ExxonMobil expects to spend more than $600 million on this project if research and development milestones are met. ExxonMobil’s investment in algae-based fuels is just one part of our commitment to the breakthrough technologies and integrated solutions that will be needed to address rising demand for transportation fuels and other long-term challenges illustrated in our Outlook for Energy.


Investing in Algae to biofuel

Hundreds of millions of years ago, the earth was covered with shallow oceans filled with algae and other simple critters.

As landmasses shifted and grew, water was displaced, leaving thick masses of algal residue that were eventually buried and compressed.

Skip forward a few eons, throw in some heat and pressure and ta-da! Oil.

Then, in 1859, Colonel Drake drilled the first oil well in Titusville, PA, unleashing not only oil but an economic juggernaut that would dictate our way of life for years to come.

The world began to use oil for everything from fuel to waterproofing, and since then has consumed over a trillion barrels. With such furious consumption — and no way to make more — world oil reserves are set to dwindle.

Essentially, we’re going to deplete in less than 300 years what took hundreds of millions of years to form. And with the depletion of oil, alternatives are destined to emerge.

And ironically. . . algae is one of them.

Biofuel Bliss:

Research like that being done at the Colorado State University’s (CSU), Engines and Energy Conservation Laboratory and the University of New Hampshire (UNH), suggests that algae could supply enough fuel to meet all of America’s transportation needs in the form of biodiesel.

That’s right . . . all of it.

Whereas with our current biodiesel feedstocks, like soy and palm, there’s no way we could grow enough to supply all of our transportation needs.

In fact, it would actually require twice the land area of the United States devoted to soybean production to meet current heating and transportation needs.

That’s a lot of beans!

Algae, on the other hand, could supply all U.S. diesel power using a mere 0.2% of the nation’s land.

In fact, enough algae can be grown to replace all transportation fuels in the U.S. on only 15,000 square miles, or 9.6 million acres of land.

That’s about the size of the state of Maryland.

Granted, that still may sound like a lot of land. . . but consider that we now use 938 million acres for farmland in the U.S.

I’d show you a pie chart of how much land would be required for algae growth — but the slice is so tiny, it wouldn’t even be visible.

So now the question is, how the heck can you make so much biodiesel from such a small amount of algae?

Well, let’s revert back to ninth-grade science class for a moment. . .

Biofuels are really a form of solar energy. Because crops convert solar energy into chemical energy in a process called (anyone? anyone?). . . photosynthesis.

It’s this chemical energy, in the form of oils, that we need to produce biofuels.

According to the UNH report, the more efficient a particular plant is at converting solar energy into chemical energy, the better it is from a biofuels perspective.

So in this area, algae’s the clear winner.

In fact, algae does this so well that up to 50% of its body weight can be fat, or the oil needed to make biodiesel.

That makes algae the highest-yielding feedstock for biodiesel, producing 24 times more oil per acre, on average, than the next leading feedstock — palm oil at 635 gallons/acre/year:

And some companies have far surpassed the 15,000 gallon per acre-accepted benchmark.

In fact, one company can produce 180,000 gallons of biodiesel every year from just one acre of algae. That comes to about 4,000 barrels, at a cost of $25 per barrel or $.59 per gallon.

To put that in perspective, it takes 3,750 acres of soy to make the same amount of biodiesel at a cost of about $2.50 per gallon for 4,000 barrels.

So, how is this going to be done?

Algae Profits Bloom:

It is possible to use human sewage and wastewater from agricultural endeavors to enhance the growth of algae.

In fact, when done right, algae can double and even triple overnight with the addition of these fertilizers.

Compare that to the five-month growing season for soy or canola!

Plus, as algae absorbs Co2 from the air as it grows. MIT has even fed emissions from their on-site power plant directly to algae being cultivated for biofuel production.

In addition, fertilizer for other food crops can be produced by using the leftover nutrients that aren’t used to make the biofuel.

That’s like having your algae and eating it too.

So let’s back up and look at the big picture. . .

We have the technology right now to cultivate algae that can be used as fuel, using human and animal waste as fertilizer.

This is waste that would otherwise need to be treated, or it will end up in our nation’s groundwater.

Not a bad deal at all!

After the necessary oils have been extracted from the algae, we use the byproducts (phosphorus and nitrogen), as fertilizer for the food crops that feed the nation — all while extracting C02 from the air.

That’s a beautiful thing.

And that’s why we’re currently looking at a number of companies . . . some public, some soon-to-go-public . . . that we believe will capitalize in a big, big way on algae.