The Summer of Algae, Part II

August 20, 2012 |

Coast-to-coast Open House Events, Hot New Technologies, must-see algae gear and algae around the world — as 2009’s “summer of algae” gives way to 2012’s Summer of Industrial Algae.

Launching today – and stretching into early Fall – the Algae Biomass Organization is coordinating a series of events billed as “The “Summer of Algae II” to raise awareness about the promise of the algae industry to create jobs, domestic fuels, and other food and feed products.

Through open-house style events, local and national officials will experience the research, products and jobs being created by some of the algae industry’s leading companies and research institutions. – with events already scheduled in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Tennessee.

Campaign events range from small briefings with local officials to larger tours of laboratories and commercial facilities that include panel discussions among several regional algae companies and research groups to announcements about new technologies.

What is it all about? Well, algae aren’t much different from you and I in one vital respect. Give them a seat at too many buffets and they overeat, get fat, and eventually need liposuction. In our case, we might alarmingly gain a few pounds over Christmas – algae can double their mass, in ideal circumstances, within hours.

They have now been bred to grow fast enough that the algae industry is expected to sustainably provide — when systems reach industrial scale — cattle feed supplements that offset the impact of drought, as well as producing biofuels and chemicals for the sectors traditionally served with petroleum. Bringing down the capital costs of the systems, extracting the algae from the water, and keeping ponds producing over the long term – these are issues which the industry is tackling now.

For example, El Dorado Biofuels is successfully producing algae in the small rural town of Jal, where it reaches 116 degrees in summer. The algae grown in Jal, which the company calls “Jalgae,” is thriving in dirty, saline water that El Dorado has pumped from a nearby oil-and-gas well. El Dorado will sell Jalgae for biofuels, and as a feed supplement for cattle, but the company will also offer petroleum companies a new, inexpensive way to dispose of industrial water.Here are some events already scheduled.

Monday August 20

The Summer of Algae kicks off in San Diego, with a joint event hosted by some of the biggest leaders in algae research and commercialization: The San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology at UC San Diego, Sapphire Energy, General Atomics, Synthetic Genomics, Cellana, and CleanTECH San Diego.

The day’s activities include a panel discussion at each hosting organization, followed by a tour of the UC San Diego algae greenhouses and laboratories, and visits to their facilities in other locations.

Tuesday, August 21st

In Colorado, algae production systems provider Solix BioSystems, Inc. and the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels will host a tour and presentation of the latest algae industry developments in that state for local and national officials.

In Minnesota, St. Cloud State University and Algaedyne will show off some of the Midwest’s latest algae research and commercialization efforts. University and company representatives will discuss technical approaches and emerging business-academic partnerships, followed by a tour of the St. Cloud State’s Fluid Dynamics Lab.

Monday, August 27th

The second week of the campaign begins at Algenol’s facilities in Bonita Springs, Florida. This tour promises to be one of the largest Summer of Algae events. In addition to local and national officials’ chance to see the company’s latest in using algae to produce ethanol, the company will also be hosting 50 local science teachers to tour the facility as part of its commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education.

Thursday, August 30

In Seattle, Washington, Matrix Genetics will be making an exciting announcement while they give officials a first-hand look at its groundbreaking research focused on producing renewable fuel and specialty chemicals derived from cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Aircraft manufacturer Boeing will also be on hand to discuss the importance of algae biofuels to the aviation industry, and the potential for a robust algae industry presence in the Northwest.

Future events

Bookmark this link for future events:

The latest and greatest technologies

Evodos’s Type 10 algae extraction system

Here’s a cool YouTube video showcasing the Evodos Type 10 algae extraction technology. This is the entry model, with a 750 liter/hour feed pump used to extract water from the algae. According to Evodos, it is frequently used by universities and research centres all over the world.

The first thermoformed sample of ALGIX’s algae-plastic

In Illinois, Dordan will be introducing the first-ever thermoformed sample of ALGIX’s algae-plastic in its 3rd Annual Bio Resin Show N Tell. Derived from up to 70% of its feedstock from aquatic biomass obtained from nitrogen and phosphorus-rich waste-water and blended with various concentrations of PE, PP, EVA, PLA, TPS, PHA etc., this bioresin is unique in that it allows industries, such as textile, agriculture, aquaculture, municipal, and others, the opportunity to capture their lowest-value waste product.

Solix’s Lumian Algae Growth System

These algae production photo-bioreactors – currently ranging from 260 to 58,000 liters – are constructed using the company’s proprietary Lumian panels, which maximize light penetration and efficient mixing of CO2 for optimized algae growth. Solix’s demonstration plant in Colorado, USA, has been producing multi-ton quantities of algae since 2009.

The product is separated into oil and solid biomass. The oil is converted into both low-value products such as biodiesel, green diesel, bio jet-fuels but also high-quality natural Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, including Omega 3, Beta-Carotene and the high-value pigment Astaxanthin. Solids meanwhile are used in aquaculture, food and animal feed ingredients due to their high protein and carbohydrate content.

Algae around the world

India: Nalco’s initial wastewater-to-algae system

In India, the National Aluminum Company (Nalco) is planning to invest $174,275 in an algae biodiesel facility that will grow algae from its wastewater treatment plant in an 18-acre shallow pond co-located at an aluminum manufacturing plant in Odisha.

Australia: Algae.Tec, Marine Innovations, VG Energy and Uniquest

In Australia earlier this month, Algae.Tec’s advanced algae to biofuels showcase facility Shoalhaven One was officially commissioned in Nowra by New South Wales Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher. The company’s high-yield, scaleable algae growth and harvesting system is connected to a waste carbon dioxide output from the Manildra Group’s adjacent plant, increasing growth and oil content of the algae without the additional expense and environmental risks of carbon dioxide injection.

Also Down Under, last month researchers from Marine Innovations SA, part of the South Australian Research and Development Institute, have come across a “super strain” of native microalgae after six years of “bioprospecting” that could be the foundation of a local biofuels industry.

Similarly, VG Energy, the majority-owned subsidiary of Viral Genetics, has entered into an agreement with UniQuest, the commercialization arm of the University of Queensland, Australia, to optimize the use of Metabolic Disruption Technology compounds in algae lipid production.

Brazil: Making algae from sugarcane ethanol CO2

In Brazil, a plant run by SAT will be producing biofuels from seaweed at industrial scale for the first time and is expected to be built by late 2013. The factory will be located on a sugar cane plantation in Pernambuco and will produce 1.2 million liters of algae-based biofuel annually.

Rafael Bianchini, head of SAT’s Brazilian group, said that the goal was to “convert the CO2 from a passive to an active” state. “For each ethanol liter produced, one kilogram of CO2 is released in the atmosphere. We are going to take this CO2 to feed our plant,” he added.

Similarly, SEE ALGAE Technology signed an agreement in June to supply and install a 1 hectare “dual-use” algae production plant for Recife, Brazil-based Grupo JB, one of the leading bioethanol producers in Brazil.

France: OriginOil’s urban-sized algae harvester

In France, OriginOil is getting ready to test its urban-sized algae harvester, the Model 4 Algae Appliance, at the La Défense complex near Paris in collaboration with Ennesys, a local wastewater-to-energy company.

Switzerland: Bioseutica and BioProcess Algae to produce Omega-3 oils

In Switzerland, Bioseutica, a producer of highly purified pharmaceutical-grade Omega-3 fatty acids, and BioProcess Algae, a Rhode Island based algal feedstocks company have entered into a commercial supply agreement for the production of EPA-rich Omega-3 oils for use in concentrated EPA products for nutritional and/or pharmaceutical applications.

Canada: Pond Biofuels, feds take cold-weather algae production gambit

In Canada, the federal government announced a $1 million investment in Ontario-based Pond Biofuels, which uses cement manufacturing off-gases to provide CO2 and process heat for algae production in cold, northern regions.

Thailand: Bangchak Petroleum, Loxley partner for pilot project

In Thailand, Loxley announced a memorandum of understanding with Bangchak Petroleum, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, for a $1.9 million algal biofuels pilot plant. Construction of the pilot, which is planned for the Ratchaburi Electricity Generating plant in Ratchaburi province, will commence in late 2012. MBD Energy has been selected to supply the algal harvest, wastewater treatment, harvesting and extraction systems, and Loxley indicated that a $25 million project for a commercial-scale facility could begin as soon as 2014.

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