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Fri July 16 2010 07:50:14 AM by 5161440

What's Happening in the Biodiesel from Algae Sector?

Could you give an overview of the latest state of the art of biodiesel production from Algae technologies? - Erick Gonzalez, Guatemala
Several people have sent in questions regarding making biodiesel from algae. Now that biodiesel is gaining in popularity and the price for common feedstocks is going up people are looking to Mother Nature's premier oil producing organism, algae, for help. The promise of algae is tremendous with potential oil yields 200 times that of soy beans?currently the most popular biodiesel feedstock in the US.
Most of the energy in the fossil fuels we use today comes from ancient algae that stored the sun's energy in hydrocarbon bonds. Now scientists and entrepreneurs are trying to take that ancient process, speed it up by a couple of million years and market it on an industrial scale.
Why go to all that trouble? Well, the list of reasons algae makes an appealing oil crop goes on and on. They can be grown using marginal land, in some cases harvest time comes every four hours, while the byproduct starch can be made into ethanol.
There have been successful projects using the CO2 from smokestacks to speed up the algae growth, adding in the possibility of a carbon credit and increasing yield per acre per year. This presents a great opportunity for the power plants because it is taking something with a cost associated with it, CO2 emissions, and turning it into something of value, liquid fuel.
But what makes algae stand out is that it is scaleable. Soy and other first generation biodiesel feedstocks like canola are not scalable, 40 to 60 gallons is all we can squeeze out of an acre of soybeans and there is no sign of that changing. While algae can yield 10,000 gallons of oil per acre and scientists are selecting for even oilier varieties. This promise of algae changes the biofuel field, instead of just reaching for 5% of the diesel market the way biodieselists are today, with algae biodiesel could be a real player in the 60 billion gallons of diesel we use in the U.S. each year.
Any crop having an impact on the diesel market is a bit far fetched and there has been a lot of hype out there about algae. Here are two things to remember when sifting through the information and outlandish ads. Making biodiesel from algae is not easy, but it might be worth the trouble because of economies of scale. That is why growing algae in your backyard with equipment some companies are advertising seems like an expensive hobby and not a money making venture. And second, bringing algae to an industrial scale for biodiesel production, takes time and money. So the companies to watch are in it for the long haul, not promising you riches overnight.
I know someone will write in about GMO algae taking over the earth's water and destroying life as we know it. But there is some good news. So far you can produce non-GMO algae that are viable and there is potential for optimization without necessarily going the GMO route. Much of the research going on is not focused on GMOs because the long regulatory process involved with getting a GMO crop to market discourages capital investment.
In the end, however, algae will probably follow the route corn has, a great deal of time spent selecting and breeding favorite varieties and then GMOs?another bittersweet tale of environmentalism in action.
The information and views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on its Web site and other publications
Mon May 10 2010 09:19:07 AM by 5161440 1

Companies to Introduce Lower-Cost Algae Production System

Diversified Energy Corporation (DEC) has formed a partnership and licensing arrangement for an algae production system invented by XL Renewables, Inc. The system, called Simgae (for simple algae), utilizes common agriculture and irrigation components to keep costs to a minimum.
Capital, operations and maintenance costs for large-scale algae systems have been a barrier to adoption for algae-based fuels processing, according to Diversified. The Simgae approach promises 1/2 ? 1/16th the capital cost, profitable oil production costs at $0.08 ? $0.12/pound, and low operations and maintenance requirements. Under an exclusive worldwide license, Diversified Energy will provide systems engineering and project management to commercialize the technology.
The Simgae system uses thin-walled polyethylene tubing, called ?Algae Biotape?, similar to conventional drip irrigation tubes, but optimized for diameter and thickness, and treated with special UV inhibitors instead of carbon black.
The tubing is laid out in parallel across a field. Under pressure, water containing the necessary nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) and a small fraction of algae are slowly pumped into the biotape. As the flow moves along the biotape, CO2 is injected and oxygen is relieved through commercially-modified injection systems connected to common PVC piping. After roughly 24 hours the flow leaves the Algae Biotape with a markedly greater concentration of algae than was started.
All the supporting hardware components and processes involved in Simgae are direct applications from the agriculture industry. Re-use of these practices avoids the need for expensive and complex hardware and costly installation and maintenance.
The Simgae design is expected to provide an annual algae yield of 100 ? 200 dry tons per acre. Capital costs are expected to be approximately $45,000 ? $60,0000 (a 2 ? 16 times improvement over competing systems) and profitable oil production costs are estimated at only $0.08 ? $0.12/pound. These oil costs compare to recent market prices of feedstock oils anywhere from $0.25 ? $0.44/pound.
The partners are currently conducting a demonstration of the technology in Casa Grande, Arizona. Continued testing and system optimization is expected to occur through 2008. In parallel, DEC is exploring approaches to combine its licensed Centia technology (a technology to make jet biofuel from any renewable oil, earlier post) with Simgae, thereby demonstrating an end-to-end crop to jet biofuel system.
Mon May 10 2010 09:16:17 AM by 5161440 1

The AIM Interview: Dr. John Benemann

As pioneers go, in the modern business of algae biofuels and co-products, possibly no one has built a longer record of accomplishment than Dr. John Benemann. Involved in algae biofuels and related research since the early seventies, Dr. Benemann was the Principal Investigator of several U.S. DOE government research projects addressing the practice and potential of algae biofuels, after, and even before, the Aquatic Species Program (ASP) started in 1978, and of its Close-Out Report, after the US DOE ceased funding the ASP in 1996.

With a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, he has made his mark as a researcher, teacher and consultant in the areas of microalgae products, waste treatment, biofuels, photosynthesis, and greenhouse gas abatement

But there is something curious about his strong opinions that many in this new industry view as, to be polite, cautionary. So, is John Benemann an algae optimist, as he claims, or a pessimist, as some interpret his lectures at many, he says too many, algae and other conferences? Is he a lone doubter of the future of algae biofuel, or a realist in the midst of the current surge of enthusiasts? Maybe you, our reader, must decide from this interview, in which he discusses his view of the limitations and unfinished research in this quickly moving field.

Despite what some might consider his throwing of wet blankets, he does come across as a firm believer in algae?s potential. But he doesn?t mince his words and he is definitely not out to win any popularity contests. On the other hand, his sincerity is contagious and he certainly knows this stuff. In the Malcolm Gladwell standard for becoming an expert, Benemann has done his 10,000 hours of practice, many times over.

We spent most of a morning recently at the beautiful Claremont Hotel in the Berkeley hills, talking about the past, present and future of that mysteriously fascinating organism.

Q: How do you view the developing algae industry?

A: My view of the algae industry is that it is really a question of moving from high value specialty products to commodity products, whether those commodity products are animal feed or fuel. The high value products, like Spirulina, Chlorella, Haematococcus (for astaxanthin production) or Dunaliella (for beta-carotene), which are all in the nutritional industry, sell from about $10 to much more per kilo, or basically tens to up to a hundred thousand dollars per metric ton. Fuel and feed products, which are both in a similar price range, sell for less than $1000 per ton. So you?re talking about well over an order of magnitude difference in value between the current technology, or at least the current business, and what needs to be achieved in reduction of production costs, if you want to go into algae commodity products.

Q: So how far are we away from having an algae biofuels market, in your opinion?

A: That?s a question I?m very often asked. When are we going to have algae fuels? And my simple answer is: when it happens. And the reason why is, anything that requires research and development means that we don?t know exactly what the answer is. When I say we don?t know, I mean we may know how to do it, but we don?t know what the results will be, otherwise we wouldn?t be doing the research. If we did, it would be just tweaking a little bit of development on an existing process, making it a little more efficient. But at this point there is still a very big gap between where we are right now and where we need to go to reduce the costs to a biofuels level. So, it?s unpredictable. It could happen in three years, five years, ten years. If I had to predict, I would predict closer to ten years than three years; we will need the time to get a reasonable answer.

Q: What do you consider the most valuable accomplishment of the Aquatic Species Program?

A: There was the pilot facility at the Roswell, New Mexico, site, which was basically done by Joe Weissman and his associates. He and I grew up in this field together, starting at Berkeley, and later on at the Aquatic Species Program, and many projects since then. He is the guy who now shows up on the ExxonMobil TV ads. The Roswell facility demonstrated the basic first level scale-up for the technology of growing algae for biofuels. Much research was done in the ASP, on a budget of $25 million dollars, in current dollars, probably more like $50 million. But it would be very difficult in my view to replicate what was achieved there, with such a limited budget, particularly with the knowledge starting at a very basic level at the time. What the ASP showed was that, in principle, it is possible to grow algae for biofuels and other applications. It also showed that a lot of things still need to be done, including achieving high levels of productivity.

Q: If you had extended the program, would you have come down to a much smaller number of strains than you did?

A: The issue of strains in algae cultivation is of course fundamental. It?s the same thing that you have in agriculture. Everything is based on having good cultivars, seeds, which can grow in your particular climatic zone, soil, and other cultivation practices. For example, the rice cultivar that would do well under the cultivation technologies in the Sacramento Delta would not do as well in the rice paddies in India. In microalgae, I?d say it would be even more the case.So each particular production system and location, in terms of the water quality, for example, will require a different strain development effort. And so the strains are going to be eventually what drives the industry, not somebody coming up with a better paddlewheel, or a more clever way of injecting CO2, or some kind of fancy new photobioreactor. Basically, it depends on the organisms. The Aquatic Species Program started that process and moved it forward, but that was still at an early stage.
Thu May 06 2010 08:35:55 AM by 5161440 5

The AIM Interview: Dr. John Benemann

As pioneers go, in the modern business of algae biofuels and co-products, possibly no one has built a longer record of accomplishment than Dr. John Benemann. Involved in algae biofuels and related research since the early seventies, Dr. Benemann was the Principal Investigator of several U.S. DOE government research projects addressing the practice and potential of algae biofuels, after, and even before, the Aquatic Species Program (ASP) started in 1978, and of its Close-Out Report, after the US DOE ceased funding the ASP in 1996.

With a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, he has made his mark as a researcher, teacher and consultant in the areas of microalgae products, waste treatment, biofuels, photosynthesis, and greenhouse gas abatement

But there is something curious about his strong opinions that many in this new industry view as, to be polite, cautionary. So, is John Benemann an algae optimist, as he claims, or a pessimist, as some interpret his lectures at many, he says too many, algae and other conferences? Is he a lone doubter of the future of algae biofuel, or a realist in the midst of the current surge of enthusiasts? Maybe you, our reader, must decide from this interview, in which he discusses his view of the limitations and unfinished research in this quickly moving field.

Despite what some might consider his throwing of wet blankets, he does come across as a firm believer in algae?s potential. But he doesn?t mince his words and he is definitely not out to win any popularity contests. On the other hand, his sincerity is contagious and he certainly knows this stuff. In the Malcolm Gladwell standard for becoming an expert, Benemann has done his 10,000 hours of practice, many times over.

We spent most of a morning recently at the beautiful Claremont Hotel in the Berkeley hills, talking about the past, present and future of that mysteriously fascinating organism.

Q: How do you view the developing algae industry?

A: My view of the algae industry is that it is really a question of moving from high value specialty products to commodity products, whether those commodity products are animal feed or fuel. The high value products, like Spirulina, Chlorella, Haematococcus (for astaxanthin production) or Dunaliella (for beta-carotene), which are all in the nutritional industry, sell from about $10 to much more per kilo, or basically tens to up to a hundred thousand dollars per metric ton. Fuel and feed products, which are both in a similar price range, sell for less than $1000 per ton. So you?re talking about well over an order of magnitude difference in value between the current technology, or at least the current business, and what needs to be achieved in reduction of production costs, if you want to go into algae commodity products.

Q: So how far are we away from having an algae biofuels market, in your opinion?

A: That?s a question I?m very often asked. When are we going to have algae fuels? And my simple answer is: when it happens. And the reason why is, anything that requires research and development means that we don?t know exactly what the answer is. When I say we don?t know, I mean we may know how to do it, but we don?t know what the results will be, otherwise we wouldn?t be doing the research. If we did, it would be just tweaking a little bit of development on an existing process, making it a little more efficient. But at this point there is still a very big gap between where we are right now and where we need to go to reduce the costs to a biofuels level. So, it?s unpredictable. It could happen in three years, five years, ten years. If I had to predict, I would predict closer to ten years than three years; we will need the time to get a reasonable answer.

Q: What do you consider the most valuable accomplishment of the Aquatic Species Program?

A: There was the pilot facility at the Roswell, New Mexico, site, which was basically done by Joe Weissman and his associates. He and I grew up in this field together, starting at Berkeley, and later on at the Aquatic Species Program, and many projects since then. He is the guy who now shows up on the ExxonMobil TV ads. The Roswell facility demonstrated the basic first level scale-up for the technology of growing algae for biofuels. Much research was done in the ASP, on a budget of $25 million dollars, in current dollars, probably more like $50 million. But it would be very difficult in my view to replicate what was achieved there, with such a limited budget, particularly with the knowledge starting at a very basic level at the time. What the ASP showed was that, in principle, it is possible to grow algae for biofuels and other applications. It also showed that a lot of things still need to be done, including achieving high levels of productivity.

Q: If you had extended the program, would you have come down to a much smaller number of strains than you did?

A: The issue of strains in algae cultivation is of course fundamental. It?s the same thing that you have in agriculture. Everything is based on having good cultivars, seeds, which can grow in your particular climatic zone, soil, and other cultivation practices. For example, the rice cultivar that would do well under the cultivation technologies in the Sacramento Delta would not do as well in the rice paddies in India. In microalgae, I?d say it would be even more the case.So each particular production system and location, in terms of the water quality, for example, will require a different strain development effort. And so the strains are going to be eventually what drives the industry, not somebody coming up with a better paddlewheel, or a more clever way of injecting CO2, or some kind of fancy new photobioreactor. Basically, it depends on the organisms. The Aquatic Species Program started that process and moved it forward, but that was still at an early stage.
Thu May 06 2010 08:35:50 AM by 5161440 2

welcome

most welcome to all my frnds who jin me.........i hope a lot of learning and cooperation from u guys.......
keep me in ur prayers,
regards
afzaal
may allah bless upon u
Sat March 27 2010 05:31:55 AM by 5161440