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January 18, 2008

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 30 mgy Algal Biodiesel Refinery to be Built in Arizona:

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Chanranshu Pandya

It remains to be seen whether such a venture could be really viable economically.I wish some information on a pilot project, if any , was made available.

NIRMALKUMAR WALA

WE ARE HEARING SO MUCH ABOUT ALGAE PRODUCTION BUT WE ARE NOT SURE IF LARGE SCALE ALGAE BIODIESEL PRODUCTION IS FEASIBLE AT THIS POINT OF TIME. HAS NAY COMPANY IN THE WORLD RUN A SUCCESSFUL ALGAE PILT PLANT.

JoSmith

Problems with contamination: Contamination is not a problem if you use a wild local strain of algae that outperforms and dominates other strains of algae. Although the percentage of oil may be lower, the overall yield will be much higher. Algae will not only be grown for oil. It will also be grown for the fastest growth rate and the highest yield of biomass. Algae biomass will also be used for ethanol production, livestock feed, burn pellets, and biogas feedstock – in addition to whatever portion goes to oil and biodiesel. The viability of algae production also depends on how well the Co-Products are managed and exploited. That’s what can make the oil viable…Contamination is not a problem if you periodically apply ultrasound to kill all the algae in an open or covered pond, and then re-seed the pond with the desired strain. Use a small Photo Bio-Reactor (PBR) to reseed the ponds. Contamination is not a problem with the closed apparatus a closed PBR, and if it is, use ultrasound and re-seed. The contamination issue is over-blown, and mainly applies to open ponds. If contamination was that big of a problem, then how do you explain the multi-billion dollar spirulina and chlorella nutritional algae industry – all grown in vast open ponds in Hawaii, Central America, and Japan?...Getting enough sunlight: First of all, where are you growing the algae? Are you growing it in Seattle where it’s cloudy and rainy half the time, or are you growing it in Arizona where there is mostly full sunlight? Are you trying to grow it on the North Pole, or are you growing it on the Equator? Furthermore, algae can thrive on 10% of what light it normally gets in full direct sunlight. Shallow open ponds have the advantage to capture much more direct sunlight than closed PBR’s that will tend to reflect a good percentage of light…Some researchers are piping light from rooftops down to the basement, where the algae is grown underground. Then that light can be distributed to an area that is 10 times larger than the surface area of light being collected on the roof. In this example, no additional land is used to grow algae. It can be grown on rooftops in the city, using recycled gray-water…The problem that GreenFuels had in their PBR at Arizona’s Apache Power Plant was because the algae were growing too fast, got too thick, blocked-out the light inside the plastic tubes, and sufficated. You don’t have that problem with growing algae in open ponds. When the algae gets thick on top, you skim it off and let the layer of algae underneath reproduce and so on. If some of the algae dies-off and sinks to the bottom, you have a way of removing it, and you process it as feedstock. GreenFuel’s AZ reactor was not designed to thin and harvest the algae fast enough. Petrosun apparently has developed a more advanced system, and they have chosen Arizona and Mexico – sunny climates where there is a potential to produce 100 to 200 tons of biomass per acre per year. That is significant, especially since General Motors recently announced their acquisition of a company that can produce cellulosic ethanol for $1 a gallon. 150 tons of gasified algae biomass equals 15,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. Even if you only get 100 tons of biomass per acre per year (for example) at 20% lipids, 50% starch, and 30% protein – That’s 5,000 gallons of biodiesel…Plus 11,000 gallons of ethanol (distilled)…Plus 30 tons of animal protein feed or methane digester feedstock. Especially when you integrate algae production with a source of onsite manure, and a methane gas digester, and you recycle the CO2 and the liquid manure effluent back to the algae – This is how you make algae viable and extremely profitable.

Clee

how do you explain the multi-billion dollar spirulina and chlorella nutritional algae industry

The way that was explained to me is that people who buy algae for nutrition are willing to pay a high price for them; higher prices than people want to pay for fuel. The nutrition industry also doesn't care about EROEI so it's fine for them if it takes more energy to make and process the algae than is in the algae.

But I'm all for this new algae biodiesel refinery. It should show whether they can make this viable and profitable or not.

brian hans

how do you explain the multi-billion dollar spirulina and chlorella nutritional algae industry

Lets have some fun with math...

Algae @ 25% oil x 7lbs oil/ fuel gallon = 28lbs of algae/gallon. $3/gallon / 28lbs/gallon = $.107/lb.

Spirulina... http://www.greensuperfood.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=SG060C&CartID=

60pills x .5grams =30grams/28grams/oz = 1.07 oz/60pills / $12.99/60pills = $12.14/oz x 16oz/lb = $194.24/lb x 7lbs/gallon = $1360/gallon.

Just a few more $/lb...
Coal = .02
Forest waste = .04
Switchgrass = .04
Corn @ 4/bu = .07


JoSmith

“If CONTAMINATION was that big of a problem, then how do you explain the multi-billion dollar spirulina and chlorella nutritional algae industry – all grown in vast OPEN PONDS in Hawaii, Central America, and Japan?”

Both of you took this out of context. The issue was contamination in open ponds – not cost comparison between growing algae for fuel and growing nutritional algae for human consumption. I have been buying and taking spirulina and chlorella for years, and I know how expensive it is. My point was that algae is currently being grown in open ponds on a massive scale, apparently without a contamination problem...Brian Hans – you are leaving out the value of the remaining 75% algae byproduct – the starch and protein – 50% would go to ethanol, and 25% would either go to methane or be made into other value added products. You are also assuming - without data - that the cost of feedstock algae is $3 gallon. What if the actual cost is a dollar a gallon or 50 cents a gallon? The figures you gave on coal, forest waste, switchgrass, and corn are also subject to scrutiny. Corn is now higher than $4 a bushel. You are also missing my point. If there is a source of CO2 and manure effluent, that would otherwise be released into the environment or cost money to dispose of, those are turned into food for the algae. No fertilizer, no diesel fuel, no prime farmland needed. Otherwise, that CO2 and methane would be released into the atmosphere…You are also trying to compare a pound of algae oil with a pound of corn which is mostly starch. They do not compare. Neither do the others. They all have advantages and disadvantages. Algae is versatile. Try using coal to get rid of CO2 and manure effluent. Try using switchgrass for making biodiesel. Try using forestry waste for making livestock feed. Corn contains less than 5% oil feedstock for biodiesel. Switchgrass less. And forest waste and coal are entirely different animals. You’re not comparing apples to apples. You are also trying to compare the wholesale cost of bulk feedstock algae on the farm, with the retain price of nutritional algae in the store. That’s not a valid comparison.

Ken Potter

I wish to thank JoSmith for his post. It makes the best case I have seen for micro algae in a combined operation. To point out the feasibility of the approach, I saw a post recently that one of the major oil companies is building a pilot plant. The results are not in, but I believe the area needs to continue to be supported.

Ty Cambell

Here's an Old Dominion University VA pilot plant producing 70,000 gallons of biodiesel, from algae grown on the roof of a sewage disposal plant. No land used period. 'Good example of integrating sewage effluent into growing algae and making biodiesel - by Scientists and University Professors: http://www.odu.edu/oduhome/news/spotlight111.shtml

Clee

Contamination. Well, I still think it has to do with price. Because the biodiesel companies want the lowest price possible, that means they want the algae with the highest oil content possible (>50% oil), which rules out spirulina and chlorella nutritional algae (9-18% oil), as well as other wild local strains. So they paint themselves into a corner where contamination can become a problem. Maybe you're right and they should look into a combined operation that uses the proteins and carbohydrates as well. How much cost does ultrasound add?

JoSmith

Origin Oil: Grows algae and extracts oil using Ultrasound. They use ultrasound in two ways – to break-up nutrients into highly absorbable microscopic sized particles to promote algae growth, and, after the algae is harvested, to burst the cell walls, exposing the oil for extraction. They say ultrasound treatment of algae is fast and energy efficient: “…the amount of energy used to crack the algae is many times less than other extraction technologies.” (Origin Oil website)…Ultrasound is also used to: (1) kill unwanted algae over-running private ponds; (2) purify water, by disintegrating bacteria, virus, contaminating compounds, and undesirable impurities; (3) pre-treat fermenting corn mash - increasing the surface area of the starch and increasing ethanol production; (4) split water into hydrogen and oxygen. (search sonochemistry, ultrasonic extraction, and ultrasound devices) I think it's a quick process that uses a burst of energy for only a few seconds.

averagejoe

I found the following ultrasonic extraction info at a different company's website:

Flow Rate Power
20 - 100L/hr 1kW
80 - 400L/hr 4x1kW
0.3 - 1.5m³/hr 4x4kW
2 - 10m³/hr 6x16kW
20 - 100m³/hr 62x16kW

I'm not sure if this info is applicable to Origin Oil's process, but it might give a ballpark idea of the power requirements.

http://www.hielscher.com/ultrasonics/algae_extraction_01.htm

averagejoe

Just looked at the table I posted. On second thought, the format of the table might look a little weird. Rather than just being an eccentric form of scientific notation, I think the company was referring to the number of ultrasonic transducers of a given power level needed for a given flo rate. Example: 6 * 16kW would be six transducers each rated at 16kW. The actual nameplate data for each transducer can be found at the website by clicking on the right side of the table. Sorry for the confusion.

Ty Cambell

Solazyme says they are actually producing "thousands of gallons of algae oil. They also have a signed "feedstock development and testing agreement" with Chevron...and another agreement to supply Imperium Renewables.

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/01/solazyme-introd.html#more

Clee

Solazyme announces "thousands of gallons"? That's disappointingly vague. If it's thousands of gallons a day, that would be a decent sized pilot plant. If it's thousands of gallons a year, that's more like a laboratory experiment.

Cyril R.

Maybe the recently mentioned BTL process:

syngas -> methanol -> gasoline

could be applied to algae as well? Oil content would be a smaller issue then.

Are algae a good candidate for thermal gasification into synthesis gas?

JoSmith

to Cyril R. and others:

Algae comes in 10,000 different chemical compositions, ranging from 96% starch to 50% oil, to 60% protein. You basically choose which strain is best suited for what you want to accomplish. Biomass is the future – It’s not universally oil anymore. With all the new processes we are hearing about, you will be able to make whatever fuels you want out of biomass. At 100 to 200 tons per acre per year, ALGAE is the King of Biomass. At this point in time, from my perspective, the pecking order looks something like this: (1) Algae (2) Cattails (3) Fast Growing Trees (4) Super Sorghum (5) Miscanthus (6) Jerusalem Artichoke (7) Sugarcane (8) Sugar Beets (9) Switchgrass (10) Cassava (11) Corn - Shuffle them around if you like. Also, biomass waste and residue is somewhere in the mix, depending on what it is and where it is. Use what you have available. Or put it in a methane digester, and then grow what you really want (such as algae) on the effluent and the CO2. There are also many other good feedstocks. Use what works best in your climate and your local conditions. Based on integration and new developments in the field, the order of these players is subject to change.

Ty Cambell

This is just the beginning. According to a Solarzyme’s press release: “We can easily make thousands of gallons (of algal biodiesel) a month,” says Chief Operating Officer Jonathan S. Wolfson.
http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/nov2007/gb20071121_358781.htm

These are most of the major R & D players working on Algae:

GS CleanTech (Green Shift); Chevron; LiveFuels - a national alliance of labs and scientists (John Sheehan VP) ; Algae BioFuels - PetroSun Inc. – AL-G-BAMA; Green Star Products, Inc.; Solix Biofuels; AlgoDyne Ethanol Energy Inc; AlgaeLink; Xenerga, Inc.; Vertigrow - Global Green Solutions Inc.; Aquaflow Bionomic; OriginOil; Abengoa; Diversified Energy – XL Renewables; International Energy; BioFence; General Atomics; W2 Energy; Green Fuels; Subitec GmbH; Shell – Cellana - HR Biopetroleum; Nanoforce - Energy Farms; Bio Fuel Systems; Community Fuels; Valcent; A2BE Carbon Capture LLC; PetroAlgae; Texas Clean Fuels; Oil Fox PetroAlgae; Algoil; Infinifuel Biodiesel; BioKing; Solazyme; Linc Energy – JV – BioCleanCoal; Menova Energy; Imperium Renewables; Grow Diesel; Honeywell - UOP LLC - Cargill; Boeing; General Electric and more….

Colleges and Universities Researching Algae:

University of North Dakota; University of Minnesota; Arizona State University; New Mexico State University; James Madison University
University of New Hampshire; Colorado State University; The International Research Consortium on Continental Margins at the International University Bremen; Ohio University - Consortium for Energy, Economics, and the Environment (CE3); University of Hawaii - Hawaii Natural Energy Institute; Eduardo Mondlane University – South Africa; Utah State University – Integrated with Biogas Digester Effluent
University of Washington – Integrated with Biogas Digester Effluent
Auburn University – Alabama; University of Alicante – Spain
Old Dominion University VA, and more…

Other entities pursuing algae:

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Pentagon, in association with Honeywell's UOP, General Electric Inc. and the University of North Dakota; the U.S. Air Force; the Federal Aviation Administration; and NASA; Sandia National Laboratories; National Renewable Energy Labs, and more…

Algae is going to be BIG

remi

very cool!

Kit P

Let me explain the life cycle of working with biomass to energy. Get excited, get educated, get realistic, get depressed. It would appear that JoSmith and Ty have not reached the end stage yet.

It is not the number of organizations working in biomass, it is number that succeed. For every technology I have studied, I have found success stories. However, the failure rate is huge. While some of the root causes of failure may be technical; most are not.

The biggest problems are the scam artist and environmental activist.

Ty Cambell

We don’t need all of these companies to succeed. All we need is one to produce and harvest algae cost effectively. And then we will take that one viable method and improve on it. Progress is based on diversified trial and error. That costs money. The more players, the higher the chances that one will succeed. This is like any other technology. Look at the history of the automobile and all the vehicles that failed or fell to the wayside for a better one. That didn’t stop us from investing in the automobile industry. The above listed Companies, Universities, and Entities are doing R&D on Algae not biomass. They’re on a quest for oil. JoSmith says it should be biomass. Maybe so. It can also be both oil and biomass.

bcohen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Algae Association
4747 Research Forest Dr., Suite 180
The Woodlands, Texas 77381
[email protected]

National Algae Association, The Woodlands, Texas
(February 1, 2008)

Announces the opening of its new headquarters serving all areas of the Algae industry.

Algae researchers and producers can come together to exchange ideas concerning the latest developments in Algae production and the products made from Algae. The Association provides an open exchange forum for the publishing of technical papers and the announcement of the results of research into the latest Algae related technologies. The Association also supports discussion and development of new markets that take advantage of the tremendous potential of Algae, not only as a source of renewable energy, but also in the exploration and development of other markets for algae products, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.

For more information contact: [email protected] or 936.321.1125

bryan

If an optimal type of algae is found and used in biodiesel production. Any thoughts on whether dry algal residue can be used as animal feed?

Ibb

Why Algae?
In Malaysia, palm oil is used to make biodiesel and this is becoming more infeasible economiccally now with the price of palm oil at RM$3500.

s. pandya

Cool,Can somebody guide with intricacies of the production of Algae ? I would really appreciate.

gs

bryan,

Palm oil is bad because they are having to destroy the rain forests to develop it.

http://www.mongabay.com/external/foe_palm_oil.htm

-gs

Mike Cusack

It will be interesting to see how algal production in high labor cost USA compares with biodiesel produced in Brazil (lower labor cost).

Mike

Process Management Consulting

Shallow open ponds have the advantage to capture much more direct sunlight than closed PBR’s that will tend to reflect a good percentage of light..............

brett

Interesting… I might try some of this on my blog, too. It’s quite interesting how you sometimes stop being innovative and just go for an accepted solution without actually trying to improve it… you make a couple of good points.

Venture Capital business plan

Drilling Chemicals

great post man i think its great ...

Trias Energetica

So Nice that Ive found this Blog! I am from the Netherlands and I have to write a paper on algae based biofuels for my study. I am looking for suitable locations to commercialize large scale biomass production and biorefinery. You need a excess source of CO2, so these plants must be located near an industrial complex or power plant. Also I think the location should be near the sea for water intake. Im mainly focussing on the production of biodiesel from algae. Can you guys point out some interesting locations for me in the USA?

black jacket

Sincere regards oneself the great person to work, often really may become the important matter. The low key personhood, the high-sounding talk works.

r4 card

The issue was contamination in open ponds – not cost comparison between growing algae for fuel and growing nutritional algae for human consumption. I have been buying and taking spirulina and chlorella for years, and I know how expensive it is.

 r4 card

It remains to be seen whether such a venture could be really viable economically.I wish some information on a pilot project, if any , was made available.

photobioreactor

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.

SEO Services

Do you think the plant in Mexico is a good idea?

Air Purifier

Not sure how I feel about this algae, some of the reports you find seem really good, but as you pointed out there's still a lot to be figured out.

Website Design South Africa

Wow! Really interesting article. Thanks so much.

Chinese Auto Lease Broker Los Angeles

It's frustrating to hear that they are encountering problems with strain contamination at these plants.

Dentist west hollywood

There are a lot of these algae plants around now, aren't there?

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Is 30 million gallons a lot? It doesn't seem like that much.

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What does PetroSun do? It's an oil company, right?

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Nobody is going hungry because American farmers are producing corn to supply 10% of the gasoline/ethanol mix.

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Progress is based on diversified trial and error. That costs money. The more players, the higher the chances that one will succeed. This is like any other technology. Look at the history of the automobile and all the vehicles that failed or fell to the wayside for a better one.

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It remains to be seen whether such a venture could be really viable economically.

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I am looking for suitable locations to commercialize large scale biomass production and biorefinery. You need a excess source of CO2, so these plants must be located near an industrial complex or power plant.

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Then that light can be distributed to an area that is 10 times larger than the surface area of light being collected on the roof. In this example, no additional land is used to grow algae.

Construction Safety Coordination

To point out the feasibility of the approach, I saw a post recently that one of the major oil companies is building a pilot plant. The results are not in, but I believe the area needs to continue to be supported.

 Inspection of Work

It will be interesting to see how algal production in high labor cost USA compares with biodiesel produced in Brazil (lower labor cost).

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