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.

Read More: http://bit.ly/8cqtrQ

Advertisements

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.

Read More: http://bit.ly/5yfYHP

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.

Read More: http://bit.ly/4quZQy

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.

Read More: http://bit.ly/7MHHOv

Algae bioplastics at affordable prices by 2010

Frederic Scheer, head of the plastics manufacturer Cereplast..

Frederic Scheer is biding his time, convinced that by 2013 the price of oil will be so high that his bio-plastics, made from vegetables and plants, will be highly marketable.

Scheer, 55, is the owner of Cereplast, a company that designs and makes sustainable plastics from starches found in tapioca, corn, wheat and potatoes.

He has believed for the past 20 years that the price of oil will eventually make petroleum-based plastics obsolete and clear the way for his alternative. “The tipping point for us is 95 dollars a barrel,” he said. At that price “our product becomes cheaper” than traditional plastic. “The day where we hit 95 dollars a barrel I think all of a sudden you’re going to see bio-plastics basically explode,” he said.

According to Scheer, once oil prices are consistently that high, which he expects to be the case around 2013, major chemical companies like Dupont and BASF will have no choice but to join him in bio-plastics. By 2020, he expects the US market for the plastics to be worth 10 billion dollars, up from its current value of about a billion dollars.

The world market for traditional oil-based plastics is worth 2,500 billion dollars. Cereplast, which has 25 employees in California and in Indiana, has accumulated a series of patents for the technology it uses to create the bio-plastics.

With annual sales of five million dollars, Cereplast manufactures resins that biodegrade naturally within three months for use in products including cups, plastic lids and packaging. They also produce “hybrid” resins of polypropylene that are stronger and more durable, for use in cars or children’s toys.

“In using our resin, we basically inject up to 50 percent agricultural renewable resources… giving them a better carbon footprint,” said Scheer. “Each time you create one kilo of traditional polypropylene, you create 3.15 kilos of carbon dioxide.

When we create one kilo of bio-propylene, we create 1.40 kilos of carbon dioxide, so clearly you have a substantial saving with respect to greenhouse gases, creating a much better carbon footprint for the product,” he said.

Creating plastics that are biodegradable is key, Scheer says, because just 3.5 percent of polypropylene plastic in the United States gets recycled. Around 70 percent of all plastic waste “ends up in landfills and stays there a very long time,” he said.

Americans go through 110 billion plastic or plastic-covered cups each year, using and discarding what the Food Packaging Institute describes as “astronomical numbers” of disposable containers. “It takes between 70 to 100 million years to make fossil fuel and you are going to use your cup at Starbucks for 45 minutes max,” said Scheer.

But using potatoes and corn to produce billions of tonnes of bio-plastics might not be the most sustainable business plan either, as spikes in food prices in 2008 illustrated. So Scheer is also looking at algae. “Algae presents the same kind of physical and thermal property that we find in starches,” he said. “We can grow algae extremely fast, in very large quantities, at a very low price.” Cereplast hopes to offer a plastic made with algae for commercial sale by the end of 2010 and is projecting its annual sales will have doubled by then.

The success is bittersweet for Scheer, who was born in Paris but has become known as the one of the “grandfathers” of the bio-plastics industry in the United States, rather than his home country. “The United States are a land of opportunity for the entrepreneur,” he said. “I regret that France didn’t give me that kind of opportunity.”

Read More: http://bit.ly/5GXZIW


First commercial scale Algae farm in USA

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.

Read More: http://bit.ly/7NFp1u

German – Indian CO2 capture experiment

“After just four days, the team observed a significant increase in algae,” said Bathmann. “It was a surprise that they reproduced so quickly.”

In the previous experiments, it took 10 to 14 days for this to happen. The haptophytes had responded to fertilization most.

“Other algae types barely increased or did not increase at all,” he said.

Haptophytes are common in coastal waters and blooms sometimes lead to them washing up on beaches as a foam. Tiny animals, the zooplankton, feed on them.

“Those organisms will eat a large part of the algae,” said the scientist, explaining that the zooplankton would breathe the carbon dioxide back into the surface water, instead of the gas sinking as dead algae to the ocean bottom.

“At the moment, the algae are reproducing faster that than the zooplankton can eat them,” he said. “The exciting question in the next few weeks will be how much of the algae will be left over.