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Blogs under tag Manohar Namasivayam

Royal Society gives ?250,000 for an innovation in algae biofuel Posted by Manohar on Mon October 18 2010 02:50:07 PM 28

A bubble-maker that looks like the flux capacitor from the Back to the Future films last night won a ?250,000 prize from the Royal Society for its ability to transform the cost and effectiveness of growing algae for biofuel, treating sewage and cooling computers.

The Y-shaped device delivers tiny but perfectly formed bubbles by mimicking the way children blow bubbles. Its inventor, Prof Will Zimmerman, a chemical engineer at the University of Sheffield, explained:

If you blow slowly and steadily, you blow a big bubble, but we use our fluidic oscillator to blow short puffs and make small bubbles.

The device has been used in field trials to produce algae from the exhaust gas from chimneys at the steel maker Corus.

Zimmerman said that as well as efficiently delivering carbon dioxide bubbles to feed the algae, the small bubbles crucially - unlike larger ones - carry away waste oxygen and allow 100% of the algae to survive.

If you sit in your own waste products, it's not good for your health, it stunts your growth and leads to death,he said. The bubble-maker also stirs the algae, meaning each cell is better exposed to the light it needs to grow. I call it a five star hotel for algae.

Ben Graziano, Carbon Trust manager of its algae biofuels challenge, said: There has been a lot of hype in this area and we think algal biofuels are 10 years from being commercialised, as most of the expertise is in the laboratory at the moment.

But biofuel from algae can reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly better than many existing biofuels, and can be sustainable as they don't need arable land.

The oil giant ExxonMobil is making a $600m (?376m) investment in algae biofuels, working with the human genome decoder Craig Venter to engineer algae to produce more oil. Shell has also invested in the technology.

Overall, the system devised by Zimmerman requires 80% less energy than existing methods of creating bubbles for chemical processes. This advantage, and the lower cost of the equipment, has led Yorkshire Water and Anglian Water to work with Zimmerman to improve their treatment of sewage, which is broken down by bacteria in ponds.

Martin Tillotson, from Yorkshire Water, said: Given the huge volumes, treating wastewater is very costly in electricity and carbon terms. This technology offers the potential to produce a step-change in energy performance.

Zimmerman was presented with the Royal Society's Brian Mercer award for innovation last night and receives ?250,000 of prize money to help commercialise the technology. But he said money was not his main motivation. If I was chasing money I would have gone into industry where they pay more for my skills.

He holds two patents and will be chief technology officer for a company being spun out of the university. "If the company does well, then I will [get rich], if not I will lose my stake."

He could not name the Californian technology company that he is working with to convert solar heated water into a cooling device for computers.

ExxonMobil and Shell had not been in touch yet.
Zimmerman added: "Elephants don't gallop."

Algae fuel startups ! 15 of them ! Posted by Manohar on Mon October 18 2010 01:53:10 PM 2

About two and a half years ago, Katie Fehrenbacher made a list of Algae fuel companies that one should know.

The companies listed were GreenFuel Technologies:
Solazyme, Blue Marble Energy, Inventure Chemical,
Solena:, Live Fuels, Solix Biofuels, Solix, Aurora Biofuels, Aquaflow Binomics, Petro Sun, Bionavitas,
Mighty Algae Biofuels, Bodega Algae, Seambiotic,
and Cellena.

Now, he has made another list of 15 companies.
If you see that you will realise how dynamic the market and technology are. Things are moving really fast.

Seven new companies have found place in the top 15.
They are, Sapphire energy, Bioalgene, Phycal, Algenol
General atomics, Synthetic genomics and Bionovitas.

The companies that have retained their place in the top 15 are

Seambiotic, Aurora Biofuels, Petro Sun, Solazyme, Bodega Algae, Solix, Live Fuels and Aquaflow Binomics.

I reserve my views on Petro algae, though.

Go on and read about what Katie Fehrenbacher
has to say about his selection of 15 algae companies.

. Solazyme: One of the leaders in the algae fuel industry, seven-year-old Solazyme has amassed more than $125 million in funding from high profile investors like oil company Chevron?s VC arm, investors Morgan Stanley, Virgin Group?s Richard Branson, and personal goods product producer Unilever.

 I toured the factory last year, and while the company isn?t producing commercial-scale algae fuel just yet, it?s currently selling its algae oil for applications like food (yum, algae milk) and products like lotions.

Solazyme wants to commercialize its fuel technology in the 2012-2013 time frame, with a production cost target of $60 to $80 per barrel. To get there, it will have to build a commercial-scale algae plant, which can cost over $100 million.

2). Aurora Algae: Formerly called Aurora Biofuels, the newly christened Aurora Algae has been searching for commercial markets today in turning algae into nutrients and protein products, in contrast to the far out markets for algae fuel.

 That change is not exactly a vote of confidence for the short-term plans of algae-based biofuel startups to bring a cost-competitive replacement for fossil fuels to market.

Originally developed at the University of California at Berkeley, the company is using genetics to isolate algae strains that can efficiently create biodiesel.

Aurora claims the technology can create biodiesel fuel with yields that are 125 times higher and have 50 percent lower costs than current production methods

3). Synthetic Genomics: Synthetic Genomics ? the brainchild of genomics guru Craig Venter ? has scored the largest deal with an oil company of all of its competitors: a $600 million partnership with Exxon Mobil. As we put it last year, the deal was so big for the nascent algae fuel industry, it was basically algae?s big break. Synthetics Genomics and Exxon opened an algae test facility at Synthetic Genomic?s HQ in La Jolla, Calif. in June. The greenhouse facility is the first step in figuring out if Synthetic Genomic?s algae fuel can move beyond the lab environment and be produced economically at a larger scale. The next step will be an outdoor facility that the partners will build by 2011.

Synthetic Genomics also had a world-changing breakthrough in May, when Venter officially became God and his team successfully created the first synthetic bacterial cell ? in other words, the first artificial life form.

A synthetic life form could be uniquely suited to help fight climate change and aid in uncovering new energy sources because a designer organism could be developed to only perform certain tasks, like converting sugar to ethanol, which would result in a very efficient process.

Natural microbes have other life priorities like, say, replication, but a synthetic organism can be created to perform one function only.

4). PetroAlgae: PetroAlgae currently trades on the trades on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol PALG, but in August filed an S-1 for an IPO.

PetroAlgae describes its technology as a development of light and environmental management systems that enable algae to grow at four times its natural growth rates.

The company says its ?secret sauce? is in its software, which can manage algae harvesting density and sunlight exposure, as well as its remote sensing system that can measure the algae crop density.

However, the company?s business model (conveniently for them) is to have their customers pay all upfront infrastructure costs as well as continued maintenance for their licensed facilities, in addition to licensing fees for the first three years of a 20-year license, plus a royalty stream during the life of the license.

I am pretty skeptical of this company ? it's steadily lost money and has no revenues.

5). Sapphire Energy: Sapphire is another algae fuel heavyweight that hadn?t yet come onto our radar at the time of our original list.

Founded in 2007, Sapphire Energy plans to ramp up its production to 1 million gallons of algae-based diesel and jet fuel per year by 2011.

By 2018, Sapphire says it will crank out up to 100 million gallons per year, and by 2025, the company says that number will soar to 1 billion gallons per year, which would be about 3 percent of the U.S. renewable fuel standard.

So yep, those are some big claims. Sapphire has raised more than $100 million from the likes of Bill Gates? investment firm Cascade Investment, as well as ARCH Venture Partners, Wellcome Trust and Venrock, and so far it has tested its fuel with two commercial airlines: Continental and JAL.

6). Bioalgene: Outta Seattle University, Bioalgene is trying to speed up the process of algae production to an 8-day cycle.

The company says three outdoor field tests in 2008 with Washington State University have proven its concepts, and Bioalgene plans to build pilot plant sites in Eastern Washington.

7). Phycal: Phycal came onto my radar when it won a $24.2 million federal research grant for its algae fuel technology. It?s parent company is Logos Energy, and its based in St. Louis.

8). Live Fuels: Live Fuels has a slightly offbeat new approach to algae fuel, that it?s tweaked since our original list. ?We cook ?em and squeeze ?em,? LiveFuel?s CEO Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones explained to us, describing her company?s process for turning algae-fed fish into oil for fuel using heat and high pressure.

 It?s a more gruesome way of harvesting pond scum than the mechanical equipment employed by other startups working on algal fuels.

Founded in 2006, LiveFuels kicked off its pilot operations at a 45-acre open pond test facility in Brownsville, Texas, a year ago. The company raised $10 million in May 2007 from David Gelbaum?s quiet Quercus Trust.

9). Solix Biofuels: Solix says its technology is able to be massively scaled, which at the end of the day is the secret that will unlock algae fuel.

Specifically Solix describes its technology as proprietary photobioreactors that are ten times more productive than open pond systems.

 Partners include Valero, Los Alamos National Labs, Colorado State University, and Shanghai Alliance Investment.

10). Aquaflow: The New Zealand company?s goal is to become the first company in the world to economically produce biofuel from wild algae harvested from open-air environments.

The company is unusual in that it harvests algae from polluted waters and produces biofuels from that harvested algae.

So revenue streams can be cleaning up water, and producing biofuels. The company has partnered with Honeywell?s UOP.

11). Bionavitas: Four-year-old Bionavitas is still pretty much under the radar, but according to some reports (like this CNET one) the company uses long light rods to deliver more light to algae to stimulate growth and to cut the costs of algae farming.

12). Seambiotic: Seambiotic says it?s the first company in the world that is utilizing flue gas from coal burning power stations for algae cultivation. The company is seven-years-old and is based in Israel.

13). Bodega Algae: Like several of its competitors Bodega Algae uses closed bioreactors instead of open ponds to grow algae. But the company?s reactors are scalable and stackable, and are meant to be placed next to industrial and municipal waste streams to harvest the algae. Bodega has its roots out of MIT.

14). Algenol: Algenol says it grows hybrid algae to produce ethanol, and has assembled one of the largest collections of blue-green algae strains in the world.

To date, the company says it has raised $70 million and it plans to build a pilot-scale biorefinery, and a 100 million to 1 billion gallon of ethanol per year refinery.

 Algenol says it has partned with Dow Chemical and Valero and has received a $25 million grant from the DOE.

15). General Atomics: OK, it?s not a startup, but San Diego-based nuclear power research company General Atomics has been working on algae fuel technology for the past couple of years and last year scored a $43 million contract with DARPA to create algae-based jet fuel


First study comparing Algae processing with soy biodiesel and petroleum.. Posted by Manohar on Thu September 30 2010 02:00:54 PM 9

Professors Thomas Bradley and Bryan Willson, relied on data for their research  from the world renowned Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State and spinoff Solix Biofuels Inc.
They say
is net beneficial - it reduces greenhouse gas emissions more than soy
biodiesel and is more scalable and it has lower energy consumption than
soy biodiesel."

This has far reaching implications.

The study appears in this week?s Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.

?There has been some research indicating that algae might be more energy intensive, but this study is the first to directly compare the complete manufacturing process of algae, petroleum biodiesel, and soybean biodiesel," Bradley said.

"We made an apples-to-apples comparison and the results show that algae is net beneficial - it reduces greenhouse gas emissions more than soy biodiesel and is more scalable and it has lower energy consumption than soy biodiesel."

Bradley and the team assessed the entire "life cycle" of the algae-to-biodiesel process including such factors as the energy used to grow algae, the diesel burned by trucks used to move the algae biodiesel from processing facilities to the pump to the energy used to make fertilizer for growth.

"We have access to the most up-to-date data and industrial-scale understandings of how this works in the real world," Bradley said. "We?re very lucky to be doing this work here at Colorado State University."

"We?re doing system-level analysis that can help policymakers and people who are trying to design our next energy system and help them make decisions about how to do this,? Bradley said. "We?re trying to understand the impact of this new algae energy system that everybody?s interested in."

Also working on the paper were doctoral students Liaw Batan and Jason Quinn.

The Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State University has an international reputation for its market-driven solutions.

Products developed at the EECL in partnership with industrial partners have reduced pollution in the atmosphere by millions of tons and have saved more than 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The lab has developed solutions to reduce emissions from large industrial engines, supported dozens of companies with new engine technology, made important contributions to basic combustion science, worked to define architectures for the future electric grid, and brought clean energy solutions to the developing world.