Renewed World Energies (RWE) has agreed to enter into a partnership with ReVenture Park in Charlotte, North Carolina to develop an algae-to-fuel pilot plant. The Eco-Industrial Park caters to clean energy businesses and will work with RWE to expand its technology from pilot scale to commercial scale. The company is developing different strains of algae that will be utilized to create biofuels as well as health supplements. The pilot facility is expected to be operational September 30, 2012.
There are numerous species of algae and each one has its own unique characteristics. One goal of researchers is to identify and develop strains that are best fits for certain uses, such as to produce jet fuel or for use as a replacement for oil in cosmetics, food and fertilizer. RWE’s system produces algae oil and algae cake, which can be fed as a food supplement to livestock or to make fish feed.
RWE President Richard Armstrong founded his company in South Carolina but chose North Carolina to take it to the next level. “We were attracted to the eco-industrial synergies at ReVenture Park. North Carolina also seems to be more attuned to the renewable fuels, and offers multiple benefits for showcasing new technology.”
ReVenture Park took advantage of nearly 700 acres of abandoned land that was a former textile dye-manufactured site. It is now being transformed into an Eco-Industrial Park focused on research and development of clean technology.
“We are pleased to have struck a deal to have RWE move a facility to ReVenture,” said Tom McKittrick, President Forsite Development. “RWE was attracted to the sites extensive existing infrastructure which then can utilize and there are multiple opportunities for us to collaborate.”
Produced 519,745 tons of modified distillers grains
Produced 6,900 tons of corn oil
Created 43 jobs in Shenandoah
GPRE held a celebration event for the local community that included a social hour, lunch and several presentations. Speakers included; Jim Stark, Vice President of Investor & Media Relations, Green Plains; Shenandoah Mayor Richard “Dick” Hunt; Gregg Connell, Executive Director, Shenandoah Chamber & Industry; Jeff Briggs, Chief Operating Officer, Green Plains; and Cory Scamman, General Manager – Green Plains Shenandoah.
Bioprocess Algae is in the final stage of construction of its Phase III Commercial Farm and it is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
“The next project for us is one to three million gallon/yr system,” said CEO Vadim Krifuks. “We are putting all our efforts in preparing to execute it.”
Krifuks said his company is looking for partners around the world to join them in their development. Most recently, the company partnered with a renewable electricity company that has the technology to convert waste heat into electricity at a cost of 6 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Krifuks believes they can reduce the cost by another 2 cents per kWh.
The next step in this project is for the two companies to combine electricity production with biodiesel production into one facility. The two companies are laying the plans for a 5 MWe renewable electricity and 1 to 3 million gallons per year of biodiesel project. The design stage is underway and the project scope will be released later this year.
Eight biofuel industry organizations today announced the formation of the Biofuels Producers Coordinating Council to jointly advocate for national policy for increased energy security through domestic biofuel production.
The Renewable Fuel Standard sets a path for energy security, reduced reliance on foreign oil, and a cleaner, healthier environment by setting annual standards to increase production and use of biofuels in the United States. The members of the Council jointly pledged support for maintaining this policy and continuing to achieve its goals. Since adoption of the Renewable Fuel Standard, U.S. production of biofuels has tripled and reliance on foreign oil has been cut by nearly one-third. The RFS is producing demonstrable results for U.S. energy security.
The first algae production plant, owned by Algae.Tec, was commissioned in New South Wales, Australia yesterday. An event was held today at Shoalhaven One and New South Wales Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher, was on hand to participate in the celebration. The facility is connected to the Manildra Group’s facility in order to capture the carbon dioxide and feed it to the algae to aid in the growth process.
The plant officially went online when Minister Hartcher activated the state of the art lighting system that delivers the Algae.Tec super yield capabilities. Prior to this momentous moment, Algae.Tec Executive Chairman Roger Stroud said the biorefinery offers New South Wales and Australia energy security at a time when traditional fossil fuel companies are leaving the local market.
Algae.Tec has recently recruited biofuels and aviation fuels specialist engineer Colin McGregor as General Manager Project Operations. He will be participating in the work third party SGS will undertake to inspect, verify, test and certify the technology.
Alltech has installed a 60-foot ethanol distillation tower at its production facility in Springfield, Ky. The plant produces natural animal health and nutrition products. The company invested $4 million dollars in new yeast-production technology, a core of their nutrition products. The new system has the ability to process 52,000 lbs of liquid yeast each day and produce 20,000 gallons of ethanol per week.
This same system will be installed in Alltech’s Thomasville, Georgia production facility that is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
In addition the company has expanded into algae production. Alltech Algae, based in Winchester, Kentucky is one of the largest algae production sites in the world according to the company. The company continues to invest in extensive research and production as it looks to the future. The company is also expanding operations in downtown Lexington at the Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., with a new distillery scheduled for completion in September of 2012.
More good news for renewable oil maker Solazyme. On the heels of last week’s announcement that the California-based company had partnered with Bunge in Brazil to produce renewable oil from sugarcane, Solazyme has now announced the commissioning of its first fully integrated biorefinery (IBR) in Peoria, Illinois, to produce oil from algae:
Solazyme has been running routine fermentations at commercial scale since 2007 and began running fermentation operations at the Peoria facility in Q4 2011. With the successful production of algal oil from the integrated facility this month, Solazyme has met its start-up goals for the facility on schedule. The IBR was partially funded with a federal grant that Solazyme received from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in December 2009 to demonstrate integrated commercial-scale production of renewable algal-based fuels. The demonstration/ commercial-scale plant will have a nameplate capacity of two million liters of oil annually and will provide an important platform for continued work on feedstock flexibility and scaling of new tailored oils into the marketplace.
Solazyme bought the facility in Peoria in May of last year. Company officials say the plant coming online is a major milestone for Solazyme.
The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee has doubts about whether cellulosic ethanol will ever be commercially viable.
“I just don’t think that cellulosic will ever be commercialized,” Congressman Collin Peterson said during an interview with Domestic Fuel reporter Chuck Zimmerman after he talked to members of the American Seed Trade Association meeting in Washington Wednesday. “And it’s become a problem. I mean, the Solyndra thing … it’s become politicized.”
Peterson said he believes algae has some potential, but with too many alternative energy plans, the economics don’t work without government support. And he points out that the government is broke.
Peterson said the House Ag Committee will be marking up the Farm Bill the week after the 4th of July. It will be interesting to see which renewable energy measures he supports in the Senate’s bill and which ones survive the process.
After spending the past year in the desert myself, I can tell you personally that the prospect of seeing ANYTHING growing, whether it is a plant or animal, is quite a highly anticipated event. And being in that desert far from home really helped bring home how much this country needs domestically produced fuels. That’s why this story from the U.S. Geological Survey’s blog caught my eye. Researchers, such as the USGS’s Sasha Reed (pictured below), are looking at how to get the most out of biofuel production in the arid regions of the American Southwest, while preserving the fragile environment…
“Even renewable energy has consequences, and we want decision makers to have the data available to make informed decisions about incorporating a variety of energy sources into our national energy portfolio,” Reed says…
…Reed and her colleagues are using a two-pronged approach to unravel the biofuel potential of the American Southwest. First, they are using remote sensing and modeling to help determine the amount of energy that could be added to our national energy portfolio by biofuel production. Second, they are using biogeochemistry to assess how different approaches to biofuel development will affect greenhouse gas emissions, water availability and quality, air quality, and soil fertility and stability.
Obviously, in the desert, water is a big concern. Trying to find ways to reduce the amount of water taken away from helping hold soil in place (which, without that water creates a whole new problem… DUST!) is a large part of the focus of Reed’s work. She says more dust has a compounding effect, such as making snow melt faster, which leads to water shortages in areas of the Southwest. The hope is this USGS work will give land managers and policy makers more information to make better decisions about when, where and how to produce biofuels in those desert areas.
Algasol Renewables, based in Palma De Mallorca, Spain, has agreed to work with OriginOil on the development of an integrated algae growth and harvesting system. Algasol has a patented technology for low-cost cultivation of micro algae for biofuels and byproducts. By bundling their products, the companies hope to achieve new levels of cost and performance in micro algae cultivation for biofuels and bioproducts.
NASA and Lawrence Berkley are working with Algasol to refine their technology, and also collaborates and maintains a close relationship with Arizona State University’s Center for Algae Technology and Innovation.
Miguel Verhein, executive director of Algasol Renewables said, “With customer demand for an integrated algae production process rising, we need to offer our customers a means of harvesting as well. We plan to recommend OriginOil’s field-proven chemical-free, high flow and low-energy harvesting system, and once available, the integrated biocrude system they are developing with the Department of Energy.”
Algasol’s floating bags or photobioreactors (PBRs) can operate in the ocean or in land-based salt water ponds, and have received a patent in 70 countries. Because they float, Algasol believes their PBRs achieve optimal light exposure with strong productivity results and avoid the high temperature and excess salinity often encountered in solar growth systems.
“Algasol’s patented system focuses on how to grow algae in floating bags, and their testing has indicated this can be much more efficient than other cultivation methods,” said Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil’s CEO. “Now with NASA and Lawrence Berkley working with Algasol, we are excited and eager to contribute our own breakthrough harvesting system to help us collectively achieve a cost breakthrough in the race to compete with petroleum.”
Algae.Tec has begun operations at its biorefinery, Shoalhaven One, located in Nowra, Australia. Executive Chairman Roger Stroud said the commissioning was on track for production of algae biomass in early June. The biofuels facility should be at full capacity by the end of that month.
The Shoalhaven One showcase facility team has the bioreactor technology and associated racks, piping, and separation tanks in place, and full testing and final validation is now underway. The bioreactors were assembled and shipped from The Algae Manufacturing and Development Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The Algae.Tec facility is positioned to take a carbon dioxide feed from the Manildra Groups manufacturing facility,” added Stroud.
The company also has carbon capture biofuels projects underway in China and Sri Lanka.
OriginOil has announced that a breakthrough chemical-free process developed for algae harvesting may also aid in the clean up of dirty water that is a byproduct of oil well water flooding and hydraulic fracturing. According to the company, using a lab prototype of the technology, its researchers have successfully clarified samples of flowback water from a Texas oil well carrying frac flowback. In essence, the technology separates the organics from the water, which then float to the surface and from there can be easily removed.
Hydro fracturing is becoming more popular with petroleum companies and in states like North Dakota operations using this technology are gearing up. Large amounts of water are used to release the oil and gas, lodged deep in rock formations, oil that until this technology was developed, couldn’t be harvested. The market grew 63 percent, from $19 billion in 2010 to $31 billion in 2011 and is expected to rise another 19 percent in 2012 according to Platts.
“Our research team has learned that extracting petroleum and contaminants from water is very much like extracting algae,” said Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil CEO. “They are both very hard to remove without using chemicals and heavy machinery. Our innovative chemical-free, high flow and low-energy process holds promise for the billions of gallons of water used daily in the oil and gas industry worldwide.”
Oil production uses a lot of water and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that for every barrel of oil produced globally, an average of three barrels of contaminated water is produced. In worse case scenarios, the water to oil ration can be as alarming as 50 to 1. As a result, the market for cleaning the water is growing, and Greentech Media reports it costs between $3 to $12 to dispose of each barrel of water. Therefore, the market for water cleaning technologies could be between $300 billion to $1 trillion per year.
Eckelberry added, “It seems that in addition to helping create the renewable energy market of the future, we may add value to a massive existing energy market. We will continue to investigate and report on this promising new application of our technology.”
Algae.Tec has announced that its two biofuels projects are full speed ahead. The company, founded in 2007 has offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Perth, Western Australia, and its company is focused on developing algae to biofuels technology using an enclosed algae growth and harvesting system. One project is underway in Australia- Shoalhaven One- and one in Sri Lanka.
Shoalhaven One is making good progress despite major rain and flooding. The cement platform structure along with the associated plumbing is complete. The next step is to install the containerized bioreactor technology. The company’s technical director, Earl McConchie, is arriving in Australia this week to oversee the final phase of the project.
A different use of the algae technology is underway at the Holcim cement plant in Sri Lanka. Bioreactors, currently being fitted at the Algae Development & Manufacturing Centre in Atlanta, GA will head to Sri Lanka in May whereupon installation will begin. This site will use the algae to capture carbon created during the production of cement and then produce advanced biofuels.
“In Nowra, the Algae.Tec facility will take a carbon feed from the Manildra Group operations, and in Sri Lanka the facility will take a feed from the subsidiary of industrial giant Holcim, the world’s largest cement and building materials company,” explained Roger Stroud, Executive Chariman for Algae.Tec.
Stroud said that the company is focused on producing global-scale biojet fuel from algae. Algae.Tec has biofuels MOUs with the European airline Lufthansa, and a 50/50 equity joint venture with Chinese company the Kerui Group for roll-out in China.
San Diego-based biofuel developer Sapphire Energy, Inc. has secured the final installment of $144 million in a Series C round of venture funding that includes Arrowpoint Partners, Monsanto, and other undisclosed investors.
This round of funding is being used to directly support Sapphire’s active and on-schedule commercial demonstration of an algae-based biofuels facility in Luna County, New Mexico. The Green Crude Farm, also known as the Integrated Algal BioRefinery (IABR), is the world’s first commercial demonstration scale algae-to-energy facility, integrating the entire value chain of algae-based fuel, from cultivation to production to extraction of ready-to-refine Green Crude. With this latest investment round, Sapphire Energy’s total funding from private and public sources substantially exceeds $300 million.
This announcement follows several recent partnerships and deals supporting Sapphire Energy’s continued expansion in Green Crude production. Last month, Sapphire announced it will integrate Earthrise Nutritionals’ spirulina strain into its growing inventory of cyanobacteria and algae strains to expand resources for algae-to-energy production. In May 2011, Sapphire announced a multi-year agreement with The Linde Group to co-develop a low-cost system to deliver CO2 to commercial-scale, open-pond, algae-to-fuel cultivation systems, now underway at the Green Crude Farm. In March 2011, Sapphire and Monsanto entered into a multi-year collaboration on algae-based research projects. Sapphire also was awarded a $50 million grant from the Department of Energy and a $54.4 million dollar loan guarantee from the Department of Agriculture, providing security for a privately funded loan.
“The ongoing support from the private investment community speaks to how strongly they believe in the development of Green Crude as an alternative fuel resource, especially Sapphire Energy’s ability to commercialize it,” says Cynthia J. Warner, president and chairman of Sapphire Energy. “It is increasingly important to find domestically produced crude oil alternatives to improve the country’s energy security, meet global energy demands, and provide jobs. Continued private investment is a critical step in achieving these goals.”
“It’s amazing to see that what started from an idea scribbled on the back of napkin is now a leading force in support of the goal to improve energy security for the country,” explains Jason Pyle, CEO of Sapphire Energy. “Today, Sapphire Energy has a widely admired technology platform, outstanding leadership team, and significant ongoing support from the investment community, making it well positioned to achieve the goal of bringing domestically produced Green Crude oil to commercial scale.”
As the ethanol industry was meeting in Orlando last week, President Obama was talking energy just a few hundred miles to the south at the University of Miami.
“If we’re going to take control of our energy future and can start avoiding these annual gas price spikes that happen every year — when the economy starts getting better, world demand starts increasing, turmoil in the Middle East or some other parts of the world — if we’re going to avoid being at the mercy of these world events, we’ve got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy,” the president said. “Yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and nuclear and biofuels, and more.”
President Obama spoke strongly about the need to end oil industry tax benefits. “I said this at the State of the Union — a century of subsidies to the oil companies is long enough. It’s time to end taxpayer giveaways to an industry that has never been more profitable; double down on clean energy industries that have never been more promising — that’s what we need to do. This Congress needs to renew the clean energy tax credits that will lead to more jobs and less dependence on foreign oil.”
The president talked about a variety of renewable energy sources, including algae. “We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae,” he said. “If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we’ll be doing all right.”