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Grand Opening of Commercial-scale Algae Bioreactor Project in Iowa

April 18th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Biodiesel-Ethanol, Energy-Efficiency

BioProcess Algae LLC’s commercial-scale bioreactor project had a grand opening in Shenandoah, Iowa on the 15th of April. Located at Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc.’s 65 MMgy ethanol plant, the project was opened by the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The commercial scale bioreactors, which began operating in February, is to demonstrate the value of carbon and ways to earn carbon credit in an eco-friendly way, also increasing the economy in the process. The two-part project is in its second phase, which began with smaller-scale reactors operation in October 2009. The $11.5 million project is funded with $4 million—$2 million for each phase— from the state of Iowa.

The project, that is supposedly the first of its kind in the world, is a collaborative venture between GPRE, filtration product manufacturer Clarcor Inc., BioProcessH20 LLC, a wastewater purification technology company, and NTR plc, an international renewable energy investment group that converts waste heat, waste water and CO2 from GPRE’s ethanol plant to algae using trademarked Grower Harvester bioreactors.

GPRE CEO Todd Becker said that since the project commercialized so fast, faster than the market, markets are currently developed  to utilize the algae biomass as feed, for biodiesel and ethanol production, and for pharma ingredients. He also noted that tests are being carried out to determine the viability of using the algae directly to produce biofuel in refineries and that they are also receiving promising results on ethanol production tests from algae.

Vilsack also noted that the project is truly remarkable in that it is not just a alliance between multiple companies but also has multiple ways to utilize the emitted carbon and make revenue out of it. And, the end goal is to license its algae production process to existing ethanol producers.

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