Algae in Packaging Industry in 2010

Breakthrough products are enabling manufacturers to make the switch to environmentally responsible, sustainable packaging,” said Frederic Scheer, founder and CEO of Cereplast.  Their  algae-based bioplastics, currently under development, will soon open up a whole new source of feedstock and result in a broad range of new applications.

“Many of the largest retailers have already made in-roads with programs designed to adopt alternative   packaging. A lgae as biomass can be a significant renewable resource and be used as a raw material for biopolymerfeedstock.

“Algae can help close the loop on polluting gases and can be a significant renewable resource,” he said. “Algae-based resins represent an outstanding opportunity for companies across the plastic supply chain to become more environmentally sustainable and reduce the industry’s reliance on oil.”

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Algae the New Oil – 2010 Forecast

The Futurist’s Magazine’s Top 10 forecasts for 2010 says Algae may become the new oil. According to researchers at a Department of Energy plant in New Mexico, single-celled microalgae, grown in pond water, produce a biofuel that is lead-free and biodegradable, emits two-thirds less carbon dioxide and other pollutants than gasoline, and can run any modern diesel engine. Even better, algae require only a fraction of the land area of biofuel-producing crops.

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Microalgae oil prevents Heart attack

DHA-microalgae oil proves to be better source of EPA, when compared to flax seed oil. This isbecause ALA from flax must be converted into DHA then converted into EPA, whereas, DHA from microalgae only has to be converted into EPA. That is one less enzymatic step to go through!In one study, vegetarians that do not have enough EPA and DHA, supplemented with 1 gram of microalgae oil derived DHA per day for eight weeks, and significantly increased their levels of both DHA and EPA (Lipids 40 (8): 807-814).

These results indicate that DHA derived from microalgae is a very good source of DHA and EPA compared to ALA derived from flax oil. Given the fact that DHA from algae oil is an exceedingly better vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids, the question is, does it have the same health benefits as fish oil?

The answer is yes.

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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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Designer Algae for photobiological hydrogen production

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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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