Advanced Biofuel Workshop

BBI International and the 2010 Advanced Biofuels Workshop planning committee welcomes presenters to St. Louis for this convenient one-day workshop on advanced biofuels. More than 400 people are expected to attend to learn about advanced technology updates, algae and second-generation feedstock development, market challenges and trends, R&D activities, policy, finance, project development and more.

Presentation ideas may be related to production, operations, R&D, project development, finance, business, feedstock development, resource analysis, environmental performance or any other topic pertaining to the commercialization of advanced biofuels.   Deadline for submission is January 11, 2010.

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Designer Algae for photobiological hydrogen production


Solazyme – Top Company in Bioenergy

Solazyme, Inc., a renewable oil and bioproducts company using algal biotechnology, is ranked number one among the 2009-10 “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” rankings, published today in Biofuels Digest, the world’s most widely read biofuels daily. The award, which more than 1400 companies were eligible for, recognizes innovation and achievement in bioenergy.

“It’s an honor for Solazyme to be selected for this award in such an important industry publication,” said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO, Solazyme. “Our team works hard every day to address the world’s critical need for energy alternatives, and to be recognized for our achievements is fantastic.”

Solazyme achieved a number of milestones in 2009 in its quest to use microalgae biotechnology to produce clean and scalable fuels, “green” chemicals, nutritionals and wellness products. Notable achievements include:

Closing a $57 million Series C financing round:
Winning two U.S. Department of Defense Navy contracts for jet fuel and ship fuel which constitute the largest quantity of fuel derived from algae or any microbial fuel to date  Completing a “field-to-wheels” carbon dioxide analysis which concluded that Solazyme’s algal biofuel, Soladiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions 85 to 93 percent when compared with petroleum-based diesel.

Being awarded a California Energy Commission PIER grant to develop fuel from cellulosic material. Announcing a formal commitment to commercialize algal renewable oil production technology for food and fuel at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative.

Welcoming energy and government experts R. James Woolsey, TJ Glauthier and Donald Kennedy to Solazyme’s leadership team.

In 2009, Solazyme also took home the San Francisco Business Times’ Bay Area Green Business Award in Renewable Fuels, the TiE50 Top Cleantech Start-Up award, was named to the UK Guardian Global Cleantech 100 and was one of two companies presented with the “Green Leap” distinction at the Clinton Global Initiative.

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Bay Area companies gets $72M in stimulus

Several California biofuels companies are winners of the government’s $600 million advanced biorefinery project stimulus award.

Emeryville-based Amyris Biotechnologies Inc., South San Francisco-based Solazyme Inc. and Lakewood, Colo.-based ZeaChem Inc., whose research and development facility is in Menlo Park, will share $71 million toward pilot plants to demonstrate their technologies.

Amyris will use its $25 million award for a pilot plant that will produce a diesel substitute by fermenting sweet sorghum and other petro-chemical substitutes. Solazyme, will build a pilot in Riverside, Penn. to produce an algae oil that can be transformed into oil-based fuels. And ZeaChem’s $25 million will go toward its pilot plant in Boardman, Oregon where the company plans to produce fuel-grade ethanol from purpose-grown poplar trees. It will also evaluate other feedstocks.

“Advanced biofuels are critical to building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system in the U.S.” said U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a press release. “These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America.”

Cultivation of Algae: Things to remember

In terms of its energy characteristics algae is much greater than other sources.

200 thousand hectares of ponds can produce fuel sufficient for the annual consumption of 5% of U.S. automobiles. 200 thousand hectares – is less than 0.1% of U.S. land suitable for cultivation of algae.

Production of algae is also attractive by the fact that during the biosynthesis carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere

Problems faced in Algae cultivation:

1. Algae that contain larger amounts of oil grow more slowly. For example, algae, containing 80% of oil grow every 10 days, whereas, algae, containing 30% grow 3 times a day.

2. The main technological difficulty lies in the fact that algae are sensitive to changes in temperature, which therefore must be maintained at a certain level (sharp daily fluctuations are not allowed).

3. Lack of effective tools for collecting algae in large quantities also prevents the commercial application of algae as a fuel today.

4 It is also necessary to determine the most effective oil types for collecting.

Technology of algae growing:

U.S. Department of Energy has studied the algae with high oil content within the program named “Aquatic Species Program”. The researchers concluded that California, Hawaii and New Mexico are suitable for industrial production of algae in open ponds. Algae were growing in ponds with total area of 1000 m2 during 6 years. Pond in New Mexico has shown high efficiency in the capture of CO2. The yield was more than 50 grams of algae from 1 m2 per day.

There is the technology of cultivation algae in small bioreactors located near power plants in addition to algae growing in open ponds. Waste heat of heat power plant is able to cover 77% of heat demand, which is needed for the cultivation of algae. This technology does not require a hot desert climate.

Bio King Company started serial production of patented bioreactors for cultivation of algae, suitable for immediate use, which include fast-growing algae with high oil content.
Spanish scientists found a type of algae that are able to reproduce much faster than other biological counterparts under the certain lighting conditions. Taking into consideration the fact that each cubic meter of water contains up to 300 specimens of algae in the open sea, it is amazing that the researchers have reached the number of 200 million specimens from the same cubic meter of water.

Microalgae grow in a plastic cylinder with 70 cm diameter and 3 m length. The algae reproduce by dividing. They are being divided every 12 hours, and the water in the cylinder transforms into a green compact mass gradually. The contents of the cylinder is subjected to centrifuging once a day. The balance is approximately one hundred percent of biofuel. Saturated with fat part of this mass is converted into biodiesel, and carbohydrates into ethanol.

Such companies as Shell and HR Biopetroleum intend to build pilot plant on the Hawaiian Islands to obtain oil from microalgae and to process it into biofuels further.


Saudi Arabia to use captured C02 in Oilfield

Saudi Arabia plans to capture carbon dioxide and inject it into the world’s largest oilfield by 2013 as part of efforts to boost output and reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

The strategy mirrors similar efforts in Abu Dhabi and comes as climate change negotiators in Copenhagen weigh a proposal backed by oil-producing countries and others to steer funding to projects that re-route emissions from the smokestack to permanent underground storage.

The carbon capture project at the giant Ghawar oilfield was a key part of Saudi Arabia’s “initiatives on green”, Ali al Naimi, the minister of petroleum and mineral resources, said yesterday. His government has been sceptical of a global agreement to cut carbon emissions by reducing consumption of fossil fuels, provoking criticism from a number of global leaders and experts.

“We’re going to have a pilot demonstration, I hope by 2013,” he told a meeting in Dubai of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association.

In Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, the use of carbon capture would satisfy three objectives: reducing emissions, increasing oil output and providing a substitute for scarce natural gas that is currently left in oil wells to maintain pressure.

Carbon dioxide has been injected into a number of fields in the US to squeeze out more oil and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is testing the technique in the carbonate geology common to the region.

The Ghawar field is the world’s largest single source of crude – producing about 5 million barrels per day last year before Saudi Arabia scaled back output to comply with OPEC cuts – but after 58 years in operation, engineers say it probably needs gas injections and other enhanced recovery methods to maintain output.

Saudi Arabia first disclosed plans for the carbon injection project in October, but Mr al Naimi detailed a longer-term strategy yesterday, noting that the eventual goal was to tie carbon capture with the kingdom’s interest in producing biofuels from algae.

“We are looking at capturing carbon dioxide, injecting it in sea water, creating algae and hopefully producing two things: ethanol – you might be surprised by our interest in ethanol – and food products,” he said.

Producing fuel from algae has become a priority of researchers across the world, including major oil companies such as ExxonMobil. But experts say scientists still need to induce each unit of algae to absorb more carbon dioxide and produce more oils to make algae a commercially viable source of energy.

Backers of carbon capture projects are closely following an ongoing debate at the Copenhagen climate summit on whether to include carbon capture in a UN-administered funding programme called the Clean Development Mechanism. The rule change would allow owners of carbon capture projects in developing countries to sell credits on the open market for every tonne of carbon they keep out of the atmosphere, giving the projects a major financial boost.

Saudi Arabia has taken an active interest in the proposal. In a submission to the UN Convention on Climate Change last year, the country’s negotiators wrote: “Many developing countries that have great opportunities to contribute in this area will have no incentives in implementing such actions if this technology is not eligible under the CDM.”


Capturing sunlight into a Photobioreactor

The Green Solar Collector (GSC), a photobioreactor designed for area efficient outdoor cultivation of microalgae uses Fresnel lenses and light guides to focus, transport and distribute direct light into the algae suspension. Calculating the path of rays of light, so-called ray tracing, is used to determine local light intensities inside the photobioreactor based on the focused rays of sunlight.

Reflection and refraction of the propagating rays of sunlight from point of focus to refraction into the photobioreactor is calculated. Refraction out of smooth and sandblasted distributor surfaces is simulated. For the sandblasted surface a specific structure is assumed and corresponding reflection and refraction patterns are described by a 2-dimensional modeling approach. Results of the simulations are validated by measurements on real light guide surfaces. The validated model is used to determine the influence of the solar angle on the uniformity and efficiency of light distribution over the light distributor surface.

The simulations show that efficient capturing of sunlight and redistribution inside the algal biomass can be achieved in the Green Solar Collector at higher elevation angles of the sun, making the Green Solar Collector suitable for operation at low latitudes with a high level of direct irradiance.