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Amazing Algae-Asia Conference - Who Says What? 3

A remarkable event comprising of many algae enthusiasts all around the world was conducted by the Centre for Management Technology (CMT) in Singapore on the 19th and the 20th of October.

The event comprised of many intellectual delegates keen on updating their knowledge on the latest developments in the algae-energy industry. Several discerning algologists working on algae-based high value end products fervent on understanding the technologies, status and the key bottlenecks faced by the algae energy industry were also present for this mega event.

 An Eye Opener Indeed! - The conference opened up the horizon of the less initiated to what is possible, what is already happening and what scope exists. An eye opener to many!. Eminent and tech-savvy speakers from various research institutes, companies and consultancies world-over were in attendance. Some of the speakers provided useful insights on how to succeed in the algae-energy business and a few others discussed about the technological developments in the algae-industry and their efforts in this domain.

Of Course, there were the regular Nay sayers and Yeah Sayers! The former were skeptical about the commercialization of algae fuels in the near-future and were quite assertive that eradicating the challenges faced by algae fuels is a long-long-long-term activity. The latter, however, gave an overall positive outlook of the whole algae-fuel scenario by describing their efforts and milestones and future efforts .Some of them explained that by  having a BIG focus on high-value end products while producing biofuels is the route to go?!

 Carbon-dioxide Sequestration-  "ABANDON ALL HOPE" or........ ?!

Among the speakers from the industrial side were - Dr. John Benemann - the author of the book on algal biofuels and by-products, one of the chief scientist of the Aquatic Species Program (ASP) provided some useful insights on the prospects of large-scale algae biofuels production with Municipal and Agricultural waste water.

Dr.Benemann, however, was not very assertive about the carbon-dioxide abatement using algae in the U.S. He exclaimed that the chances of CO2 capture in the United States is as less as 0.1%, hence hopes to capture carbon-dioxide employing algae must be abandoned. However, Australian ?based MBD energy were quite confident about their  collaboration with three Australian-based power plants to capture CO2 using algae. Mr. Tony Clair, Agribusiness Manager  from this company confidently presented their milestones and claimed that their algae- plants  near the power-plant emitters will operate effectively from 2011.

Yet another speaker who threw light on this hot topic was Mr. Steven Martin from Pond Biofuels, he unfortunately couldn't make it for the conference; hence spoke through Skype detailing their tie-up with Ontario-based St. Mary's Cement and their upcoming work for growing algae from stack gas emissions near many more cement plants.

We also had the well-known "Quantum fracturing" company - Orgin Oil highlighting how the large CO2 emitters should venture into this nascent algae industry and their work on their patent-pending unique harvester which separates the biomass leaving the oil on top.  

From Switzerland, we had Dr Jean-Paul , he shared some information about his research on the enhancement of biodiesel production from microalgae species by increasing the addition of carbon-dioxide through gasification with the aid of a catalyst.

Will Algae -Energy Projects Soon Secure Carbon-Financing!? - From the algae business perspective, we had a reputed speaker from KPMG consultants, Malaysia. Mr. Rahul Kar the Director of the carbon and sustainability advisory, KPMG highlighted the procedure to be followed so as to obtain the carbon financing for algae-based projects. He surprisingly remarked that- No algae energy project has ever been taken to the United Nations to secure carbon financing.

Open Ponds or PBR - Nah!!!! , Open Ponds PBR - YES?! -  There have been debates in this industry as to which cultivation method has to be employed - Open-ponds Vs Photobioreactors (PBR). Mr. Vittor Verdelho from Alga Fuel, Portugal highlighted the fact that a technique for the combined use of open-ponds photobioreactors for algae-cultivation will only be a feasible option. He exclaimed ? Open ?ponds or PBRS ? aint gonna work !

Non-Fuel Products First, Fuel Next?! -   The challenges ahead of algae-fuel commercialization were presented by the Managing Director of Aurora Algae formerly known as Aurora Biofuels. Mr. Matt Caspari .The thought-process of Matt was fantabulous. He highlighted the fact that it is a good idea for algae fuel companies to initially focus on high-end non-fuel products from algae, and gradually shift to fuel production as more breakthroughs occur in the algae-fuel industry.

Integrated Algae-Based Remediation and Biofuel Production - There were a few speakers who spoke about the prospects of algae-based bioremediation. Dr.Rupert Craggs from National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (NIWA) highlighted the efforts pursued by NIWA for algae-based waste water treatment in high-rate algae ponds. He also highlighted the benefits of employing waste-flue gas as a carbon-source into the high-rate algae ponds (HRAP). Most importantly, he exclaimed that the use of colonial algae would be the best option as they can be easily harvested making the harvesting process less-energy intensive.

Will Macroalgae be the Feedstock for the "FUTURE FUEL" ?!

Prof. Dr. Choul-Gyun Lee from INHA university was of an opinion that exploiting the seaweeds in the ocean will be a more viable option to make biofuels sustainable. Apparently, he is working on three projects - biodiesel from microalgae, macroalgae to ethanol and screening strains to be used as biofuel feedstock with the fund of 49 billion Korean Won ( approximately 42 million USD) obtained from the Korean Government.

From a Korean-based company by name  Ecophycotech. Dr. Kyung Kim, the CEO of the company highlighted  the commercial production of microalgae and its alternative markets. Interestingly, the Korea Food & Drug Administration permits to industrialize only two kinds of microalgae (Chlorella and Spirulina), which delays to develop many kinds of microalgal products in Korea.

Myung-Ko Shin from Biolsystem, Korea shared his views on the development of technologies for producing bioethanol from macroalgae.  His key research area involves the production of bioethanol through saccharification and fermentation processes from red algae.

Is Genetic Engineering the Solution to Make Algae Fuel Commercial!? - Research in the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS)  is mainly on studying the lipid metabolism in certain algae strains. Dr. Neil Clarke  a senior scientist from GIS presented the  systems biology of lipid metabolism in various microalgae species. They are also working on a genetic-engineering project termed 1KP wherein , they plan to modify 1000 different species of plants, out of which sequencing various green algae  species for biochemical application is one among their target.

Yet another speaker from Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) also presented his work on the genetic modification of marine-water algae strains such as Nannochlropsis and high-throughput genomics based screening and development on oilgae feedstock.

Dr. Tom Beer, Leader, Transport Technologies and Sustainable Fuels from Common Wealth Scientific and Industrial Research  CSIRO, Australia provided some useful information on the scope and emerging opportunities for algae-biofuel production unique to countries such as Australia.

Marvelous Networking Opportunity! The networking opportunity the conference offered was simply superb! Good that we had a lot of business cards; we got a brilliant opportunity to connect with many erudite academia, discerning algalogists and algae-industry professionals. One of the most memorable moment my colleague Mathumitha Balu and I shared were that we got an opportunity to dine with Dr. Benemann during the lunch-break on the second-day of the conference.  We really wished we had more time to network with other speakers and delegates as well.

This conference, as promised, proved out to be a junction of top minds in the industry and as Oilgae and others left Singapore they were very happy with knowledge gained on the status and the future of this nascent industry.

To sum up, the experience of the 3rd Algae-World Asia was fantastic, as this summit proved to be a bridge connecting algae-enthusiasts from all over the globe with a sharp expertise and enormous experience to discuss almost all the technologies currently employed for algae exploitation. The thought process of the speakers were remarkable which made us sit-back for their presentations. CMT, an all-women maintained organization ( I say so coz I witnessed only lady volunteers working there from setting up the projectors to taking photographs!) Kudos to CMT for choosing such distinguished speakers and being the organizers for such a magnificent occasion.   

How I wish such conferences occur once in three months. I am sure it will be a tremendous opportunity to learn, share and network with numerous algae-energy enthusiasts from all over the world.

Mon November 01 2010 12:12:09 PM by Sumukhi algae-energy events  |  algae  |  fuels  |  non-fuels  |  Algae Fuel Companies 6228 views

Comments - 2

  • Mon November 01 2010 01:45:45 PM

    You are very right Sumukhi.

    Vote Up! 1 Vote Down! 0

  • Manohar wrote:
    Tue November 02 2010 10:59:29 AM

    Sounds pretty useful too. If so much has taken place - it must have been a hurried affair.
    Where u hussled ?
    Or was it relaxed ?

    Vote Up! 1 Vote Down! 0

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