This article from Florida Trend, which goes in depth on that state’s algae-biofuels industry, says Orlando businessman Nick VandenBrekel’s Agrisys will be growing algae to turn into jet fuel and biodiesel, as well as omega-3 “fish oil.”
Scaled up, VandenBrekel envisions a host of 1,000-to-20,000-acre farms across the Southeast where algal fuel is grown, processed and used locally, from community gas stations to diesel fleets such as school buses. Success, he says, would create no less than a “rebirth of American agriculture.”
Like Agrisys, a troop of other Florida companies — including PetroAlgae of Melbourne; Algenol of Bonita Springs; AquaFiber of Orlando; and Algae Aviation Fuel of Sarasota — sees the same promise in algae as a source of biofuel. Algae grows faster than any other potential crop, reaching maturity in less than 24 hours. As it grows, it devours CO2, generating oxygen as a byproduct. Most important for its potential as fuel, algae produce lipids, which store energy as fat.
The Florida firms all boast unique algae strains or proprietary processes they say can make fuel.
Agrisys, for example, has developed or licensed technology for growing and processing its algae in partnership with a research institute called CEHMM and a private technology firm called ARA, both in New Mexico. VandenBrekel says researchers there have been able to squeeze 125 gallons of oil daily from 1,000 gallons of algae-water mix piped from five acres of ponds.
The article goes on to say the biggest issue is making these operations profitable. Maybe they should listen to our latest Domestic Fuel Cast and see if some of that technology would help.