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NZ Algae Biodiesel Producer to Join Girvan Institute

The Silicon Valley-based Girvan Institute of Technology has invited Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation, a New Zealand company that produces biodiesel from algae sourced from sewerage ponds, to join.

The Girvan Institute is a non-profit, public benefit corporation established to speed up the development of cutting edge technologies into useful products and services. Girvan’s affiliates and partners include global research labs, Fortune 1000 companies, small and medium high-tech companies and a number of private equity and venture capital firms.

In late 2005, Aquaflow began a pilot test with the Marlborough (NZ) District Council to extract algae from its excess pond discharge. Aquaflow processes the algae pulp and the extracts lipid oil, which serves as the feedstock for biodiesel production.

In May 2006, Aquaflow announced it had produced its first sample of biodiesel from the sewerage algae. Aquaflow is now concentrating on increasing the production from its process, and testing the resulting fuel in a range of engines.

The company anticipates producing at least 1 million liters (264,172 gallons US) of biodiesel per year from its first production facility in New Zealand, to be located in Blenheim. Following the successful trial in May, Aquaflow has set up a US subsidiary.

Aquaflow recently secured funding for further research and development of the technology from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (New Zealand). Aquaflow is preparing a prospectus as its announcement has attracted considerable interest from potential investors.

This [invitation] is a huge opportunity for Aquaflow. We were thrilled when they approached us to join the institute. Silicon Valley is where the research and investment action is and Girvan can open so many doors for us. We’re looking at a number of propositions and talking to some major league players. The invitation to join Girvan seemed like a smart way to establish a sales base in Silicon Valley

—Nick Gerritsen, Aquaflow director

(A hat-tip to Richard!)


shaun mann

rock on NZ!

another example of a country actively concerned with resolving environmental problems making boku bucks.

obviously, turning poo into fuel through algae isn't going to solve the fuel crisis or climate change (prob not even 1%), but it could reform one part of our lifestyle and turn one waste into a profit source and you can't complain about that.


These guys and are really on to something.


Turning crap into fuel. I love it.

allen Z

Other methods turn sewage/garbage into CH4. The two (biomass methane and fuels from algae) could replace most of the liquid and gas forms of fossil energy for heating, commercial, transport, electrical, and industrial needs.


Way ta GO!

Now let's all get our governments behind it and go all the way!

An Engineer

Care to explain how you calculated "not even 1%"? According to USDA, as explained, a mere 15,000 square miles of algal ponds could produce 100% of the transportation oil requirements.

Wait, I know, you were just being clever. Sorry to rain on your parade...


Just a thought
It seems like there’s a couple of technologies that can be employed here
Why not have the coal industry get involved. Run a coverer through the
Smokestacks to dry the soild waste it can be reprocessed as fuel like they do in Texas with cow chips. Then send it in with the coal lowering the amount of coal needed to burned. With the CO2 Coming out direct it to algae ponds were the algae will use it and the byproduct will be oxygen also with the liquid waste could feed the algae. The algae can be harvested for bio fuel.


Hmmm... co-located coal powerplants and sewage treatment plants where possible? Source of fuel and fertilizer all in one.


Brilliant process, Algae to oil, I'd love to see more of it. To me, it seems like the best short term solution to our energy problems. The U.S. is to coal what the UAE is to oil. We've got enough for the next 200+ years.


Interesting twist: sewage after common-practice secondary treatment contains excess amount of P and N nutrients, which could damage receiving watershed. Biological post-treatment of effluent in polishing ponds (by vegetation grows) is established practice in small do medium sized STP, which is much cheaper then construction of dedicated nutrient removal treatment stages. Growing of biodiesel algae in these ponds is brilliant idea. In addition, this effluent is already loaded to saturation with CO2.


This could be almost as big as thermal depolymerization.

Paul Dietz

This could be almost as big as thermal depolymerization.

Internet deadpan humor. Gotta love it.


Funny thing is that if this were built to even 1% of our energy use it would be huge.

Kari Lemons

Algae is a great potential feedstock solution for biodiesel, one that I hope will come to bare in the near future.
But NREL did a very thorough study of open pond algae and determined that open pond algae opened up a bigger can of worms then it solved. The bottom line problem was the algae used was GMO. And they found that containing the GMO within the pond was not possible.
Which is why many of the newer technologies have gone with closed systems.
The MIT process is within glass tubes that are angled to the sun attached to power plant flu gas.
One idea that I see as possible is that algae is not just oil, it is oil and starch. If a closed system of algae was hooked up to the CO2 ethanol waste stream, a integrated ethanol/biodiesel plant could grow thier own feedstock with algae in a closed loop system.

Paul Dietz

And they found that containing the GMO within the pond was not possible.

I thought the problem was the exact opposite: that it was impossible to exclude wild organisms that would outcompete the GMOs (which, after all, are optimized to squander their energy providing fuel for us, not for their own growth).


dont they have a closed algae system in up state NY
as a test pilot i read somthing about it

Paul Dietz

dont they have a closed algae system in up state NY

Of course these systems are also being tested. The problem with them is the cost of the closed photobioreactors.

arnold garnsey

these algae have bioaccumulated sulpher to acid sulphate soils in the past and other elements, why shouldnt they collect the desirable wastes ie heavy metals ag au pb , and the more insidious compounds may also be treated ie dioxins pcbsin the bacterial phase.

dhruv kohli

want to find out about the lab setup required for testing algae biodiesel on engines. i suppose i need a dynamometer and what else. please help me out :)
thank u


Is Aquaflow listed on the stockmarket? I'd love to invest in it.wes

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