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Global Green To Fund Demonstration Algae Bioreactor Plant

5 October 2006

Global Green Solutions has agreed to fund a pilot plant demonstrating an algae-based bioreactor system that converts captured CO2 to bio-fuel oil. The funding, at an estimated cost of $ 2,500,000, earns Global Green the exclusive world rights for commercialization of the technology, developed by Valcent Products.

The Vertigro system consists of a series of closely spaced vertical bio-reactors constructed of thin film membranes allowing high levels of light penetration. The membrane is configured for an optimum flow for the growth of algae. This system produces much higher algae growth rates than other systems, according to the company.

When fully operational, the system yields a constant supply of algae which is harvested, dried and processed to remove the oil, leaving a residue of some 50% by weight, which can also be sold for a variety of commercial products. The system will be a closed loop, which allows for a greater retention of water in the system, and eliminates cross contamination by other algae species.

Valcent has extrapolated data from its test bed facility to conclude that production yields of up to 150,000 gallons (3,570 barrels) of bio-oil per acre per year are possible at a cost of about $20 per barrel. By comparison, soybeans yield about 68 gallons per acre and palm about 635 gallons per acre.

After the demonstration pilot plant is in operation (targeted for July 2007), several production units that may total 1,000 acres may be built which would have the potential of producing approximately 4,000,000 barrels of oil per year, along with significant carbon dioxide green credits and other commercial products.

On completing the pilot plant, Global Green will have earned a 70% joint venture interest, leaving Valcent with a 30% carried joint venture interest with both parties subject to 4.5% third party royalties. Under the terms of the Joint Venture, Valcent retained the right to carry Global Green for a 30% Joint Venture interest if Valcent elects to produce a model for the consumer markets.

October 5, 2006 in Biodiesel | Permalink | Comments (42) | TrackBack (0)

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Nice to see more than one player in this area. And... 150 thousand gallons? The highest I've seen for algae is 20,000 with a low end of 5,000 gallons/acre/year. I'd like to see some third party verification of that claim, because it seems too good to be true.

Mike, is that reall 150,000 ga/acre, or was it 15,000 ga/acre?

Allen:

It says 150,000 in the second linked article. It does seem like someone "misplaced" a decimal point.

If it is really 150,000 ga/acre w/ leftover biomass (for various food/feed, industrial, and energy purposes), then we are witnessing a potential gamechanger, a quantum leap. Even recent theoretical celluostic fuel yields, for an acre of land, were in the 40,000, to 50,000 ga/acre range. This could be enormous, but we need more, Much More information before going any further.

Independent confirmation will be needed too.

The price per share is in the Junk range, $0.54 a share, up from $0.53. If anyone has spare change to throw around, this may be one to get 20 for $11, and see what happens.

Valcent indeed claims 150,000 gallons per acre per year (extrapolated from their data).

Global Green claims 4,000 barrels (168,000 gallons) per acre per year.

Heck, even 15,000 ga/acre is not...half bad. The difference is that the higher yield, a 125mi by 125mi plot (total ~15,000 sq mi) of California could replace ALL global hydrocarbon needs. With the lower yield, you would need a 200mi by 200mi plot, or a total of ~40,000 sq mi to replace US oil and gas consumption.
_The figures are rough, and take into consideration bad production runs/years, and increased energy demand.

From this post, it seems that the company claims much higher growth rates tan, say, GreenFuel Tech's system. I suppose 150k/acre is in the realm of possiblity. We'll see what happens when they bring their pilot plant online next year, I suppose.

How "Green" is the "bio-oil" they are producing? Can they make "bio-diesel" out of it? Is the "bio-oil" as clean as let's say Willie Nelsons "bio-diesel"??

JJ,
Biodiesel is methyl ester derived from various plant/animal oils/fats. Algae oil that certain species make can be used for SVO, or be converted to other fuels/chemicals. As far as we can tell from the press release, it can be made into biodiesel.

Add this system to a coal plant. And why not get the waste water from the sewer water. Plants have a natural
Purifying process it seems like 2,500,000 is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Stop firing million dollar cruise missiles an put it into projects like this
Oh well maybe after GWB

The "Bio-Diesel Now" blog lists 5 negatives for bio-diesel(see below). The 5th negative = higher NOX is what it is.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Are there any negatives?
Of course. There is no perfect fuel.
1) Primarily that it's not readily available in much of the nation, YET. Consumption jumped from 500,000 gallons in 2000 to 15 million gallons in 2001, so hopefully availability will change soon. 2) Biodiesel will clean your injectors and fuel lines. If you have an old diesel vehicle, there's a chance that your first tank or two of BD could free up all the accumulated crud and clog your fuel filter. 3) It has a higher gel point. B100 (100% biodiesel) gets slushy a little under 32°F. But B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% regular diesel - more commonly available than B100) has a gel point of -15°F. Like regular diesel, the gel point can be lowered further with additives such as kerosene (blended into winter diesel in cold-weather areas). 4) Old vehicles (older than mid-90s) might require upgrades of fuel lines (a cheap, easy upgrade), as BD can eat through certain types of rubber. Almost all new vehicles should have no problem with BD. 5) Finally, the one emission that goes up with biodiesel is NOx. NOx contributes to smog. We feel that a slight increase (up to 15%) in NOx is greatly offset by the reduction in all other emissions and the major reduction in greenhouse gasses.

JJ:

Considering the other benefits I think we can take a little more NOx.

Allen, finance.yahoo.com shows GGRN.OB as $1.10/share, not 0.54. What were you looking at that's $0.54? Either way, today's volume was 41,900 shares traded compared to the listed average of 3545 shares/day. It appears that activity has really picked up lately.

With respect to the elevated NOX emissions the New York Times reports that Honda has unveiled a new diesel catalytic converter to modify NOX into plain Nitrogen. Even at a significantly lower yield than the 150,000 gallons per acre/yr, this is a real contender in alternative biofuel production. The major downside appears to be finding a process to lower the cloudpoint without adding petro-diesel. If B100 could achieve a -15°F cloudpoint without added volatile chemistry, it would be a near ideal fuel source... until we move on to other energy solutions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/04/opinion/04wed4.html

allen Z, where have you read about theoretical cellulosic ethanol yields of 40,000 to 50,000 gal/acre? Looking over my own references, the most optimistic estimate I have seen is Vinod Khosla's claim that by 2030 switchgrass yields of 27 dry tons per acre and ethanol conversion at 100 gal/ton would yield 2,700 gal/acre. That's a very far cry from 40,000, and makes the Valcent claim of 150,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre absolutely jaw-dropping. (Some might say absolutely unbelievable? ;-> ) Can anybody hazard a rough guess at the energy content equivalence of a gallon of ethanol vs. a gallon of biodiesel?

One should probably also keep in mind that these people are not talking about sprinkling some seeds on an acre of ground here, but rather covering that acre with a boatload of industrial infrastructure, i.e., vertical bioreactors. There's got to be multiple orders of magnitude more investment and maintenance required. It's not clear how this scales into an x-million acre solution.

It certainly sounds intriguing, I wish them luck and hope to hear more technical details and progress reports ASAP.

I have it at $0.85, yearly high of $1.40 and a low of $0.15.

http://finance.yahoo.com/charts#symbol=GGRN.OB;range=1y

Let's see how true this claim is:
Assume 1 gallon is about 3 Kg and 40 Mega Joules/Kg:
150,000 gal/(yr * acre) X (40 MJ/kg) X (3 Kg/gallon) X
(1 acre/4046 m^2) = 4449 MJ/(yr*m^2)
4449 MJ/(yr*m^2) X (1 yr/365 days) X (1 day/86400 sec) = 141 Joules / (sec * m^2)

Sun rays near the equator strike the earth surface at 1000 joules / (sec * m^2). However, the sun shines for about 8 hours at max power. This means the average power over a 24 hr day is about 333 joules/(sec * m^2)

calculating the efficiency of this system we have:
% efficiency = (141/333) = 42%

This solar efficiency is higher than any solar heat engine I have seen in the market. I am reluctant.

I believe this idea was stolen from GS CleanTech.We could see a lawsuit on this one...

http://www.gs-cleantech.com/product_desc.php?mode=3&media=true

CleanTec process not even in the ballpark from what their flow chart demonstrates.

What Roger Davis said.

Even 15,000 gallons/acre/year is multiples of what any system based on higher plants can produce.  If the bioreactors can be made sufficiently cheap (say, inflatable plastic greenhouses) this could make seriously cheap fuel.

Unless, of course, there are carbon taxes.  Fossil carbon cycled out as biodiesel is still going to be fossil carbon and ought to pay the levy.  The best scheme for this, IMHO, may be to use biomass as the carbon source (carbonization of grass or crop byproducts and combustion of the off-gas for electricity) and recycle the carbon emissions as liquid fuel.  That brings the system back to carbon neutrality, with the potential for carbon negativity in several different ways.

Engineer-Poet:

I agree--don't enable new coal power plants. However, it would be a net gain to create fuel using C02 from existing plants. The bio-fuel could offset fossil fuel that would be burned otherwise, reducing overall C02 emissions.

I'd agree, except that it makes no sense to invest in a system which has to be replaced anyway out of environmental necessity.  For instance, the figures I've seen for algae systems mention something like 40% carbon capture.  If we need to reduce carbon emissions by 70% (or more!) to stop greenhouse warming, not even the 40% captured can be allowed back into the atmosphere.

A system to solve this problem must be able to exceed 70% carbon reduction, or even go carbon negative (to offset other emitters).  Systems which can't make it even to 70% reduction remain part of the problem.

transparent -

Biodiesel is indeed an attractive fuel for a diesel engine equipped with modern aftertreatment systems. B100 is problematic because of the risk of biological contamination by fungi and associated damage to fuel systems. Blending in a small fraction of mineral diesel avoids this complication.

In any case, the reality is that the available volume would only cover a few percent of total diesel demand. In Europe, all diesel intended for on-road vehicles contains a small fraction of biodiesel by law (status varies by country). Mandatory low blends avoid problems with fuel systems and the need to set up a distribution infrastructure for a new fuel grade.

Note that much the same bioreactor setup could also be used to farm other algae species that produce an excess of starch rather than oil. For the US market, ethanol or preferably, butanol, produced from algal starch could be a promising avenue. Unfortunately, starch is tricker to separate from the raw, very wet biomass than fats are.

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