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Shankar's Blog

Why biofuel projects dont get funding ?


What is holding Biofuels back ?
An interesting article, although there is no mention of algae, I thought the members of Oilgae club would be interested in reading this.

Sun August 08 2010 11:55:59 PM by Shankar 4 bio fuels

Joint research to extract protein from algae

I have always been hankering that the viabilty or the path to profit for algae fuel is by making a co product.

And now, TNO and industrial algae producer Ingrepro Renewables B.V. are starting a joint research project to extract food ingredients from algae.

Once the protien and other ingredients are extracted, biomass becomes a byproduct. It is financially viable.

The study should reveal how to extract the substances from the organisms on a large scale, before they are processed into sustainable chemicals or fuel.

The extraction process can lead tot an algae production system that is profitable and environmentally friendly. In the research project, Ingrepro Renewables B.V. is responsible for the algae production and for setting up the biorefinery process.

TNO will develop the technologies for extraction and refining the oil, proteins and carbohydrates and will work on the possible applications of the ingredients.

This two-year project has a volume of 1.5 million euros, which is largely funded by the Biorefinery encouragement scheme of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).

Algae have great potential as a sustainable source of food ingredients and fine chemicals. The organisms not only use the greenhouse gas CO2 under the influence of sunlight, but also substances such as nitrate and phosphate.

If the last mentioned substances are used well, algae production is relatively inexpensive as well as good for the environment.

Large-scale algae production can thus be a response to the demand for sustainable meat substitutes. All around the world, meat production is under pressure because of its effects on climate and excessive land use in for example the Amazon. Up to 60% of algae consists of protein, which could provide a vegetable alternative to animal protein.

In addition to this protein, up to 30% of algae consists of oil rich in healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This ingredient can be processed into a healthy food ingredient, and become a sustainable replacement for fish oil.

Relatively little is known yet about carbohydrates from algae. The research project aims to provide more information about the biorefinery of those ingredients.
Food ingredients

For the time being, the utilisation of algae as food ingredients will yield higher potential profits than the use of algae for biofuel. The biofuel from algea industry is still in its infancy. Several small scale tests have already been performed with cars, trucks and aeroplanes using algae oil as fuel.
Thu August 05 2010 11:26:08 PM by Shankar 1 algae protein  |  study

Nano farming

The current oil extraction methods from algae include drying, along with ultrasound as well as the use of
enzymes and chemicals, which are
intended to rupture or erode the cell

These methods destroy the algae cells.

That means that algae will have to be regrown.

The breakthrough from
the U.S Department of Energy?s Ames
Lab team, lead by Victor Lin, is a process that allows fuel relevant
chemicals to be extracted from
the lipids of algae without killing them.

The process
uses millions of sponge-like
nanospheres that were specially
engineered by Ames Lab Program
Director for Chemical & Biological
Sciences, Victor Lin and his colleagues.

The Ames Lab spheres do their work
thanks to a proprietary collection of
chemicals, which are embedded on
each sphere?s surface and within its
nanoscale tunnels.

more http://www.ameslab.gov/final/Images/Factsheets/Nanocatalyst_Foundation.pdf
Tue August 03 2010 12:02:36 AM by Shankar 5 nano farming algae  |  victor lin  |  ames lab

How LS9 uses bacteria to produce hydrocarbon fuel

LS9 is one of the 30 disruptive companies as voted in
Biofuels digest recently.

LS9 researchers compared the genomes of 10 strains of cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) that naturally produce alkanes with a very similar strain that produces no alkanes.

They identified 20 genes that the alkane-producing strains had but that the non-alkane-producing strain lacked.

It wasnt very difficult for them after this to identify the genes and enzymes necessary for alkane production.

They confirmed their discovery by incorporating the genes into E. coli and measuring the alkanes that the bacteria subsequently made.

The bacteria secrete the alkanes, which can then by easily collected and used as a fuel.


Sun August 01 2010 11:11:24 PM by Shankar 3 LS9  |  bacteria  |  hydrocarbon fuel  |  cynobacteria

Need for regulation in Gene modified algae !

I have been harping on need for regulation in Gene modifying. More so in the case of gene modifying algae for fuel.

There are algae that can double itself every few hours.
There are algae that can go far in the wind.
They all can become difficult to contain.

I have every now and then given the example of the financial crisis that emanated from the famous sub prime
selling of houses in usa. Then bundling financial products from the sale of sub prime houses to other banks and the banks then sold such debts as derived products to banks in other countries.

There was chaos and the markets tanked.
Everyone later analysed and said the reason for such a collapse of the financial market was because of lack of Regulation.

A 2008 US Government Accountability Office report, found half a dozen documented cases where GMO were released unintentionally.

"Moreover, the actual number of unauthorized releases is unknown," the report notes.

Unlike genetically modified corn, which has been used for some 15 years, similarly altered algae are newcomers to the scene and have not been tried outdoors before.

"Being a nascent industry, there are no existing standards for various aspects of algal biofuels production," said an Energy Department algae road map issued last month.

Before genetically modified strains make a debut in ponds, regulators and researchers must assess potential environmental risks.
Formulate guidelines.
The Government or the Governments the worldover should put in money to make risk assessment and set guidelines.

Read an article by Dina Fine Maraon NY Times
Sat July 31 2010 11:06:44 PM by Shankar 5 GM algae  |  risks  |  rewards  |  regultion

Petro Algae, Eco Frontier, Korea enter into an agreement

PetroAlgae Inc, a renewable energy company that licenses its commercial micro-crop technology globally, today announced that it has signed, with Eco-Frontier, a cleantech management firm and Asian renewable energy developer based in Seoul, Korea.

Petro Algae announced an agreemnt with a company in Chile a few months ago and in Nov 2009, it announced an agreement with one of Indias largest companies called the Indian Oil corporation.

Very little is known of the progress made after that.
Thu July 29 2010 09:30:38 PM by Shankar 5 petroalgae  |  eco frontier  |  korea

How Solazyme was formed !!

Two teenagers arrived at Emory University in Atlanta as freshmen in 1989, and within days, they hit upon a ?delusional? idea: starting a biotech company. Two decades later, it?s become a lot less delusional, as Jonathan Wolfson and Harrison Dillon have built South San Francisco-based Solazyme into one of the nation?s leading contenders in the race to create renewable biofuels.

?The first day I met him, we?re sitting in a dorm room, I asked him what he wanted to do,? says Wolfson, Solazyme?s CEO. ?He said, ?I want to be a geneticist.? I said, ?I actually just wanted to know what you want to do tonight,??maybe we?d go get some beers, find some impressionable women. I guess the die was cast right then.?

The two struck up an enduring friendship, then went their separate ways on career paths in business and science. They reunited in 2003 to start Solazyme, with what was then a truly outlandish-sounding vision of using fast-dividing, super-efficient algae to produce renewable fuels.

Seven years later, they have developed a process that can convert cellulosic biomass like sugarcane, with the help of algae as a middleman, into renewable fuels like diesel and jet fuel.

Wolfson and Dillon have turned their once-delusional vision into an organization with 90 full-time employees that has active partnerships with big oil and consumer product players like Chevron and Unilever.

It has signed a couple of contracts to supply renewable diesel to the biggest customer on the planet?the U.S. Department of Defense.
more here

Thu July 29 2010 07:34:25 AM by Shankar 2 solazyme  |  wolfson

Mixing algae in a PBR can be carbon positive !!

Anna Stephenson of University of Cambridge says
making algal biodiesel in clear tubes has a carbon footprint nearly four times that of producing diesel.

When algae are farmed in perspex tubes, she says, the energy needed to pump the algae around to ensure adequate exposure to sunlight, results in a carbon footprint of 320 grams per megajoule equivalent of fuel.

This compares with 86 g/MJ to extract, refine and burn regular diesel (Energy and Fuels, DOI: 10.1021/ef1003123).

Anna's model shows that growing algae in open ponds offers a lot more potential to produce an environmentally sustainable fuel the footprint of biodiesel produced this way is only 19 g/MJ.

Dont rule out a PBR yet !

Am not sure if Anna Stephenson has taken into account that in open ponds, the water tends to evaporate, and there is the consequent need to keep pumping water.

Equally interesting is the research being carried out by
Prof Mackley and Benjamin Taylor.

Prof Mackley is also incidentally from University of Cambridge, UK.

Their research is about the design and evaluation of an algal oscillatory flow bioreactor (OFB). The design is based on Oscillatory Flow Mixing (OFM).

The goal of their research is to apply OFM technology to develop a more efficient method of algal growth and CO2 sequestration, with one end product being biodiesel.

So, dont rule out a PBR yet.
Mon July 26 2010 02:58:42 AM by Shankar 64 benjamin taylor  |  Anna stephenson  |  university of cambridge

Re- engineering Algae to biodiesel production

To the best of my knowledge, this is the second funded project in gene modification after the Exxon SGI deal.

It will be great if we compile a list of such projects / researches ie those in pursuit of modifying the gene of algae to make more oil, easily.

Although I have been emphasising the need for regulation in such projects that involve, GM, it seems like a pretty viable project.

In Indiana, the DOE has awarded $4 million to a project at Purdue University that is attempting to genetically engineer algae to generate more lipids.

The three year project calls for the Purdue researchers to maximize the amount of CO2 that is routed towards lipid production, as opposed to other activities within the cell.

The group will also create flux maps that focus on the speed of reactions within metabolic pathways, information that the research team says will be useful for future genetic engineering efforts.

Read the story direct from Purdue univ site in the url given below.
Mon July 26 2010 02:34:27 AM by Shankar 1 algae  |  Purdue

How many people work at Origin Oil ?

All of us have heard of Origin Oil's " quantum fracturing", Origin Oil's tie up with MBD energy of Australia, tie up with a Japanese Univ of repute, several patents, MAX ONE the mobile algae extraction technique, Hydrogen Harvestor, Origin oil being named NO1 among the most transformative biofuel companies by biofuelsdigest, and so on and so on.

The answer to the above question of how many people work in Origin oil is

I am really surprised. They are in the news every other day. Riggs Eckelberry is arguably the most known personality in the algaefuel industry.

And there are just 8 employees !!
Surprise Surprise !
Read more of an interview with Riggs Eckelberry, that I just read.

Sun July 25 2010 02:35:57 AM by Shankar 2 Riggs eckleberry  |  Origin oil