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November 14, 2007

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Comments

Greg Woulf

I don't know enough about this to comment, but it seems promising. More promising than ethanol to me.

GreenPlease

Indeed, Algae->Oil holds promise, particularly if the oil is refined into diesel.

Transforming our entire private vehicle fleet to diesel with mild-hybrid tech would greatly reduce the amount of fuel we would need in the first place.

It would be incredibly elegant to have an organism as simple as algae to provide a great portion of our energy needs.

I hope they can pull it off.

George Bruce

The CO2 from the biodiesel plant's boilers is tiny compared to the emissions from a coal fired generating plant. They can call this a commercial scale facility, but in reality this is a small pilot plant. It is probably all they can do with limited capital.

I hope they have wild success, but we should have no illusions that algae biodiesel is here and now.

donb

George Bruce said:
The CO2 from the biodiesel plant's boilers is tiny compared to the emissions from a coal fired generating plant. They can call this a commercial scale facility, but in reality this is a small pilot plant. It is probably all they can do with limited capital.

Given limited capital, it makes sense to utilize existing infrastructure by co-locating with a biodiesel plant.

I certainly hope they are successful as well.

J.B.

After you press the oil out of the algae, you get a biomass bi-product. Figure 50% oil, and basically the other half is algae biomass. The viability and profitability of the algae installation will also depend on how the biomass bi-product is exploited. The remaining algae biomass will be used for either livestock feed, biomass burn pellets, or even ethanol. Therefore, you will see algae farms integrated with dairy and poultry farms, feedlots, biomass and coal burning power plants, and ethanol refineries, in addition to biodiesel plants. This is called an Integrated Biorefinery. Search: XL Renewables. This is your next generation 10 to 1 efficiency dairy farm - integrated with a dual-fuel biorefinery - producing milk, cow feed, biodiesel, ethanol, and production power at the same location. Totally self-powered and off the Grid. I favor biodiesel, but that will only run 1 out of 5 of the vehicles we currently have on the road. We could transition to all diesel, but that would take decades. We need to be realistic. Biodiesel will take a while to catch on, and in the meantime, we need ethanol as a supplemental transition fuel. Biodiesel and ethanol are inter-related - especially when you grow algae for oil, and your bi-product can be processed into ethanol. We only need to optimize engines to take advantage of ethanol’s high octane. EPA has a high compression turbocharged ethanol-optimized engine that gets 25% more power and mileage running on ethanol than it gets on gasoline. The engine is lighter and smaller, with a much higher power to weight ratio. You may see this engine and the new clean diesel engine in plug-in hybrids. 120 dry tons of algae per acre per year is possible. That will make 7,500 gallons of biodiesel from the oil, and 5,000 gallons of ethanol from the biomass bi-product. Algae farms can be built anywhere. They don’t have to be in the Corn Belt. Therefore bio-fuels made from algae can be produced and consumed locally, without shipping them long distances. When algae becomes commercially viable and cost competitive, fill the market with cheap domestic biodiesel and ethanol. Then we won’t be going into debt to buy foreign oil.

DaveMart

I'm pretty doubtful that any scheme to make biofuels from algae is competitive.
I base this on the analysis here:
http://www.nanostring.net/Algae/CaseStudy.pdf
Sounds like a well-founded critique to me.

bigTom

davemart: an interesting link. Of course the analysis was for photo-bioreactors for powerplant emissions, which have always struck me as pie-in-the sky. I'm not sure what the economics for algal ponds, as opposed to expensive tubes would be.

My thinking is that we will go towards PHEV, but still need some sort of non-oil based longterm substitute for chemical feedstocks, and the liquidfuel range extension fuel for PHEVs.

Engineer-Poet

Don't just point to it, tell us what it says.  If it hasn't got anything relevant enough to be quoted, why should we read it?

DaveMart

BigTom,
My understanding is that the use of open ponds causes problems as they are very difficult to keep clear from other growths - I'll try to find the references for you.
EP,
Not really a lot of point in my bowdlerising a technical analysis like the one I linked to since I have not the training or expertise to summarise.
If clicking on the link is too difficult, then I assure you that following the arguments given will be too much for you!

George Bruce

EP, let me summarize it for you. He analyzes various cost assumptions and concludes that algae biodiesel using the GreenFuel system will cost about $20/gallon to make. His analysis is thoughtful and comprehensive and makes a lot of sense. He assumption seem reasonable. I would love to see someone with the right credentials point out the errors in his analysis and show that biodiesel should only cost $2/gallon.

George Bruce

EP, let me summarize it for you. He analyzes various cost assumptions and concludes that algae biodiesel using the GreenFuel system will cost about $20/gallon to make. His analysis is thoughtful and comprehensive and makes a lot of sense. He assumption seem reasonable. I would love to see someone with the right credentials point out the errors in his analysis and show that biodiesel should only cost $2/gallon.

DaveMart

Here is a supporting post by Dr Benemann, of whom:
'He helped author the final report of the Aquatic Species Program and has decades of experience in this field. "Growing algae is cheap," he says, but "certainly not as cheap as growing palm oil." And he is particularly skeptical about attempts to make algal production more economical by using enclosed bioreactors (rather than open ponds, as were used for the Aquatic Species Program). He points out that Japan spent hundreds of millions of dollars on such research, which never went anywhere. Asked to comment about why there is so much effort in that direction now, he responds, "It's bizarre; it's totally absurd."
Here is the link to the discussion:
http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/2007/05/algal-biodiesel-fact-or-fiction.html
I don't think I will rush to invest! ;-)

C. Urbina

I am already a microalgae biomass producer, and I'm sorry to say that I have completely to agree with the analysis shown at

http://www.nanostring.net/Algae/CaseStudy.pdf

Each kg of biomass (or 2 pounds), in the better (and yet theoretical realm) possible situation would cost US$3 to be produced. If the oil yield is 50%, you have US$6/kg of oil cost, that you still have to spend more money to transform into biodiesel.

As long as the current economical model is in force, Biodiesel from algae as replacement for oil is a pipe dream.

Sorry.

Ty Cambell

There is no “current economical model” for producing algae. There are over twenty companies, about a dozen universities, and hundreds of individual researchers, each with their own approach. This includes GS CleanTech (Green Shift); Chevron; LiveFuels - a national alliance of labs and scientists; PetroSun Inc.; Green Star Products, Inc.; Solix Biofuels; AlgoDyne Ethanol Energy Inc; AlgaeLink; Xenerga, Inc.; Vertigrow - Global Green Solutions Inc.; Aquaflow Bionomic; OriginOil; Abengoa; Diversified Energy; International Energy; BioFence; General Atomics; W2 Energy; Green Fuels; Subitec GmbH, and more. Those who give up will be left in the dust by those who persevere. The Nanostring Case Study referenced above is narrow vision and not the final word on algae. Given optimal growing conditions, algae reproduces every 8 hours, and has excellent prospects to become the leading biofuel feedstock.

petr

I'm all for algae biodiesel especially if it happens to capture c02 from powerplants. Even though that co2 is released later.
But this business of livestock feed from the compressed algae pellets -- come on..
Our livestock already eats enough crap as it is. Theres a farmer in Kentucky puts his cattle on field, they eat grass, drop manure, 3 days later when the fly larvae appear he brings in his chickens.. in the end it enriches the soil and his beef and chicken is really tasty.. It can be done.
I know this is off the topic..but not too much.

Ty Cambell

With all due respect, Algae is not crap. Consider this: Millions of human beings consume algae as dietary supplements – Spirulina and Chlorella are 60% to 70% protein and very rich in vitamins and minerals. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. Algae is also rich in chlorophyll which builds hemoglobin, oxygenates the bloodstream, and enhances the immune system. As algae becomes mass produced, these benefits can also be passed along to animals and livestock.
There are three types of algae: (1) oil rich (2) high-protein and (3) 96% starch. Each of these types would be grown and processed differently, in order to produce different products. The high starch type would be distilled or gasified into ethanol. With the high protein type, the non protein portion would go to ethanol and biodiesel, and the remaining protein-rich portion would be used just as distillers grains are used – as animal and fish feed. The oil rich variety would primarily be grown for biodiesel, with the remaining starch going to ethanol, and likewise, the protein to feed. Ten times more protein can be produced on an acre of algae, than can be grown on an acre of soybeans. At some point in the future, you are going to see automated, modular algae generators, which will add fresh, high-protein algae to dairy, poultry and livestock water, before they drink it.

C. Urbina

Dear Ty:

There is plenty of companies (the ones you mention and then some others) that claim to be producing biofuels from algae. Can you Tell me of a single one of them actually selling biofuel and not shares?. I can tell you about one, a New Zealand company that has already sold a batch of biofuels made from algae, but not from cultured algae, but from naturally growing algae in sewage ponds, which costs 0 but has a very low output capacity.

I have been working on the production of microalgae cultures at industrial scale (on the tons/month of harvested biomass range) for some years now, and I also have shares on a company I helped to start up which obtains natural carotenoid pigments out of microalgae biomass. We have all the equipment and systems to mass culture algae in open ponds at the several hectare scale, and we have a very good idea of the costs involved.

I am also consultant for some CO2 to microalgae Biomass sequestration projects from some of the more important yet non much discussed fossil fixed CO2 releasing industries. This industry really needs to reduce the CO2 emissions, and when they analize the investment requirements and the costs involved for algae biomass production, they laugh at the very concept.

Please don't misisnterpret me: I am totally aware that making biofuels from algae is technollogically feasible, without any reservations, and I could be doing it in this moment if I could make a life out of it, and I also think that it could be a very good way to stop depending on fossil fuel extraction.

But, from an economical point of view, and an entepreneurial one, is non feasible unless politics decide to promote and force its adoption, which, IMHO, would take a considerable subsidy at this point.

Trough research and development, I see economically competitive biofuels from algae become a reality only in the long term future, 20 years from now, only if strongly and constantly funded now and focusing more in the genetic selections and genetic engineering of the strands for suitability of culture in open ponds.

My Best Regards.

Jim Berliner

So what ever happened to this. Did it ever get off the ground

b cole

National Algae Association

Algae: The Next Biofuel

Inaugural

Algae Commercialization
Business Plan and Networking Forum

April 10, 2008

www.nationalalgaeassociation.com

Brooks A. Agnew, PhD

The GSPI solution is soon to be on a large scale industrial scale. The Odessa, WA plant is complete and ready to produce 8 million gallons of B-100 per year. The plant is capable of crushing 40ktons of canola seed into oil and high protein meal as well as processing algae oil produced through their algae system. It's cheaper than any feedstock in the world at $0.18 a pound and stable from market forces. We will soon see $1.50 a gallon diesel fuel available in that area.

Brooks A. Agnew, PhD

The GSPI solution is soon to be on a large scale industrial scale. The Odessa, WA plant is complete and ready to produce 8 million gallons of B-100 per year. The plant is capable of crushing 40ktons of canola seed into oil and high protein meal as well as processing algae oil produced through their algae system. It's cheaper than any feedstock in the world at $0.18 a pound and stable from market forces. We will soon see $1.50 a gallon diesel fuel available in that area.

John

Is it going to do us any good to replace expensive petroleum-based fuels with expensive alternatives? Isn't it the price of oil that is killing the economy? I keep looking for someone who has come up with a solution to our energy problem, but there doesn't seem to be one. Alternatives always seem to be non-viable energy illusions, and the more I look at the algae option, the more it looks like another case of wishful thinking. Remember the energy-invested over the energy-returned equation? I'd appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

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Don Cain

Using starch based algeas specifically for ethanol based production is very economically feasaible for existing corn based ethanol plants. Using the clean CO2 from current fermenter production, and water from the corn based facility, all you really need to do is rupture the starch from the algea and dump it into the slurry mix tank of a corn based plant. Very little modification would be needed after that.

As long as the cows will eat it, you could produce feedstock savings of 10 to 15% a year and make distillation extremely profitable.

photobioreactor design


Phycotech’s mission is to provide its customers with leading edge photo bioreactor technology.
By providing cost effective technology for the production of high quality algal biomass we hope to contribute the continued growth of an algal industry that will play a key role in a more sustainable world.

r4 card

My thinking is that we will go towards PHEV, but still need some sort of non-oil based longterm substitute for chemical feedstocks, and the liquidfuel range extension fuel for PHEVs.

r4

Transforming our entire private vehicle fleet to diesel with mild-hybrid tech would greatly reduce the amount of fuel we would need in the first place.

Las Vegas Receptions

The viability and profitability of the algae installation will also depend on how the biomass bi-product is exploited. The remaining algae biomass will be used for either livestock feed, biomass burn pellets, or even ethanol.

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The CO2 from the biodiesel plant's boilers is tiny compared to the emissions from a coal fired generating plant. They can call this a commercial scale facility, but in reality this is a small pilot plant. It is probably all they can do with limited capital.

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Using starch based algeas specifically for ethanol based production is very economically feasaible for existing corn based ethanol plants.

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