Green Star Products, Inc., previous post, (OTC: GSPI), announced Friday that it has completed Phase I of its 40,000 liter microalgae demonstration facility and has been successful in controlling the most important variables in algae production, i.e. temperature of water in large systems, salinity (salt content), evaporation, pH (acidity-alkalinity) and most of all initial costs of construction.
In summary, GSPI has developed the field expertise to build and operate the patent pending, proprietary Hybrid Algae Production System (HAPS), a cross between an open and closed pond system. The demonstration, prototype facility is located in Montana with an individual pond capacity of 40,000 liters, which can easily be scaled up to larger systems and acreage.
Joseph LaStella, President of GSPI, explains, "The industry hurdles are mainly associated with costs of construction of algae farms and process systems that can economically control the growth environment of the algae. This is exactly the purpose of GSPI's Phase I demonstration algae facility."
Mr. LaStella claims:
● All attempts to use closed bioreactors for algae fuel crops have failed. Closed bioreactors are too costly, although they do have a place as a breeder facility (hatchery) for larger systems.
● Open Pond Systems have had marginal success and are inexpensive to build, but are prone to multiple failures from many uncontrolled environmental conditions, ranked in order:
- Temperature and light variances – day and night, summer versus winter,
- Infiltration from local algae into open ponds contaminating the cultured algae causing pond crashes;
- Evaporation, wind blowing dust particles into ponds and rain causing changes in salinity and pH, which affect growth of algae.
The GSPI (licensed) algae system is a Hybrid Algae Production System (HAPS) that incorporates the controlled environment of the closed photobioreactors coupled with inexpensive construction technology to reduce the cost to a level very close to the open pond systems.
Temperature and light control are the two most important parameters identified by industry reports and must be accomplished at an effective low cost. The next important parameter to be controlled is salinity. Open ponds continually evaporate large quantities of water and leave salt behind. Salt content continually increases and adversely affects the growth of the algae and must eventually be disposed of and exchanged with new water and algae.
The pond was constructed quickly, after which it was filled with water, then the water flow commenced and tests for flow rates, mixing rates and pond day and night temperatures changes were charted. The HAPS system has demonstrated several design features and supplied useful data as shown by these points:
- The GSPI enclosed HAPS have been designed to be constructed utilizing relatively inexpensive local materials anywhere in the world.
- The 40,000-liter pond was assembled, with a four-man crew, in less than 12 hours after the necessary construction materials were onsite.
- During the test period, varied weather conditions occurred in Montana with temperatures varying from 34°F to 82°F, winds up to 30 mph, heavy rains, some snow, cloudy and sunny periods – all occurred during this time.
- However, with the enclosed HAPS, several typical uncontrolled open-pond parameters were dramatically improved. For example, pond temperatures were 30°F to 36°F higher than the outside temperature on cold nights well above the optimum minimum growing temperature for algae of 64°F.
- The HAPS also offer additional inexpensive external temperature controls, if necessary, to cool ponds in the hot summer and heat ponds in winter conditions, during extended sunless days, to maintain maximum growth conditions.
- Algae cannot tolerate direct sunlight and they tend to grow best receiving 25% to 50% of direct sunlight. GSPI’s HAPS enclosed ponds have a partial light barrier with the enclosed material to promote optimum light conditions for algae photosynthesis.
- GSPI’s HAPS ponds do not evaporate the water and can maintain optimum salinity levels for long periods of time.
Many suitable high-lipid (oil) algae species have been cultivated and already exits to produce the First Generation of sustainable energy farms. Present available algae species can produce 4,000 gallons of oil per acre each year, which is 50 times greater than the oil yield from oilseed crops such as soybean or canola crops. Recent news stories have publish the fact that the world is already experiencing significant increases in food prices because oil crops compete with food crops (Reuters May 8, 2007 – “United Nations tackles sustainable bioenergy growth”).
Algae farms, on the other hand, do not compete with food crops. Algae may be the only long-term feedstock solution for biodiesel production.
A report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) states the following conclusions in relation to algae farms:
- The DOE analysis indicate, “that significant potential land, water and CO2 resources exist to support this technology. Algae Biodiesel could easily supply several 'quads' of biodiesel - substantially more than existing oilseed crops could provide. This perspective led DOE to focus on the concept of immense algae farms.”
- “Microalgae systems use far less water than traditional oilseed crops. Land is hardly a limitation. Two hundred thousand hectares (less than 0.1% of climatically suitable land areas in the U.S.) could produce one quad of fuel. Thus, though the technology faces many R&D hurdles before it can be practicable, it is clear that resource limitations are not an argument against the technology."
In summary, GSPI claims that it has already addressed the main causes of failures of other systems and they are now ready to inoculate the first HAPS’ pond with high-lipid (oil) producing algae.
Green Star Products, Inc. is a company dedicated to creating innovative cost-effective products to improve the quality of life and clean up the environment. Green Star Products and its Consortium are involved in the production of renewable clean-burning biodiesel and other products, including lubricants, additives and devices that reduce emissions and improve fuel economy in vehicles, machinery and power plants.
Adapted from Green Star Press Release
GSPI still has many major steps to demonstrate before their HAPS can be said ready to work. In my mind these initial test, although required, are trivial compared to operating a system that is growing algae. The must demonstrated that 1) they can keep the system adequately mixed so that the algae is fairly evenly distributed over the pond, 2) they can inject the CO2 into the pond and distribute it evenly without pressurizing the enclosure or releasing significant amounts to the atmosphere and 3) they must demonstrate that they can efficiently harvest the algae without losing significant amounts of water and still maintain a stable environment for growing the water. I assume that after that the pressing of the remaining water out of the algae and converting it to biodiesel are relatively straight foreword tasks.
Looking at their 2006 financials the question must be raised as to how they going to provide the money required for these tasks. They have received a $10.8 million order, plus royalties, announced Nov. 13, 2006, for 90 of biodiesel reactors and control systems with DeBeers, scheduled for delivery over 18 months from the date of order, which was received subsequent to the 2006 statements.