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US and German Algae Companies Form Strategic Alliance to Advance Bioreactor Systems

11 January 2007

Greenfuel Technologies Corporation, a leader in the development of algae bioreactor technology for recycling CO2 in flue gases into biofuels, has signed a strategic alliance agreement with IGV (Institut für Getreideverarbeitung), a private industrial research institute headquartered in Potsdam, Germany. IGV is a pioneer in micro-algae research and production with more than 80 commercial technology deployments worldwide.

Under the terms of the agreement, GreenFuel and IGV will share proprietary algae bioreactor technology in an effort to accelerate the commercialization of biofuel production from recycled carbon dioxide in power plant flue gas emissions.

GreenFuel and IGV will also pursue commercial opportunities together in Europe. Once in commercial production, the GreenFuel Emissions-to-Biofuels process will allow power plants to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, generate carbon credits, and produce clean, renewable biofuels. (Earlier post.)

GreenFuel estimates that its Emissions-to-Biofuels process can absorb a significant percentage (up to more than 80%) of a power plant’s CO2 emissions during the daytime, varying with available sunlight. The Emissions-to-Biofuels system scrubs NOx emissions around the clock.

Unlike typical agricultural biofuel feedstocks, such as soybeans or corn which have a limited harvest window, algae multiply every hour and can be harvested every day.

Algae can also be grown on poor quality land with non-potable water, so they don’t compete for land suitable for food crops. The carbon-enriched algae contain lipid oils and starches that can be converted into biodiesel and ethanol for transportation fuels. The residual protein can be used for animal feed and nutritional supplements. GreenFuel is currently involved in a number of Emissions-to-Biofuels pilot projects in the USA, Australia, Europe, and South Africa.

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January 11, 2007 in Biodiesel, Biomass, Biotech, Emissions | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0)

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Nice.


_I wonder what the 24hr sunlight exposure during the summer months above the Arctic circle woould do to algae growth. The sun is relatively low on the horizon, but is up all day.

This might be a good reason to have a CO2 pipeline system. Take it from power plants and ethanol plants to oil and old NG wells. You can take it out of the wells and use it for this on land that can not grow crops.

Green Fuel I'm waiting for an IPO......
I'd put my money and my mouth er lungs to....

There already is a fair sized CO2 pipeline in North America. One of its endpoints is Texas which has lots of dry wells, sunshine and land that can't grow crops.

allen Z I may be wrong be I believe algae do not require hi intensity light levles. I seem to remember that they prefer moderate intensity levels.

I was wondering when European companies would partner with GreenFuel. They may actually meet their CO2 emissions and energy security goals this way.

It would be interesting if someone would fiqure the cost of liquefing the CO2 on site, (such as at power plants or ctl/ctg sites) and sending it by rail to the desert's of the south west for algae conversion (I don't know how much water is used in their process). Even if the cost is slightly more than the oil produced, it could be worth the expense.

If oil prices sit around the $60 range for any length of time (I know it's lower at the moment) I think you will see the existing CO2 pipeline network expand rapidly as companies use CO2 in EOR. Once that effort is over the same network can be used for algae with the old wells used as reservoirs.

East Germany has plenty of dirty lignite and sites contaminated by Communist chemical factories. It is also sparsely populated, by central European standards.

80% CO2 re-use would imply that much carbon would not have to be brought to the surface in the form of oil for transportation use. IFF it is affordable, that sounds more sensible to me than true sequestration of flue gases.

I was wondering if the visible light released during the combustion of coal or coal gas could somehow be transported to the bioreactors and, if the algae will grow 24/7 if the conditions are right. Anyone know?

Rafael: Interesting idea. I have seen simple light tunnels with tubes, mirrors and lenses used in buildings but I'm not sure if anything like those could be connected to the furnace at those temperatures.

I was wondering if the visible light released during the combustion of coal or coal gas could somehow be transported to the bioreactors and, if the algae will grow 24/7 if the conditions are right.

You can calculate the peak emission wavelength if you know the temperature of combustion: lambda = 2898/T. T is in Kelvins, and the wavelength will come out in microns. The actual spectrum can be calculated using Planck's Law. The red end of light good for photosynthesis is around 700 nm (if the algae is using bacteriocholorophyll about 850-900 nm)

Fluidized bed combustion:

2898/1100K = 2580.5 nm

Apparently not optimal for algae growth. However utilizing 1/3rd wavelength puts it right on target at 860 nm. Losses for the down sample would make this inefficient?

Andy
don’t invest in one thing especially new technology

There are mutual funds out there and there all doing pretty well

Check out Neuberger berman socially responsive fund

NBSRX

It only invests in energy friendly funds no nuclear

Its rated 4 star by morning star not pushing this one just using it as an example

Losses for the down sample would make this inefficient?

I don't understand this statement. We are rapidly headed toward the Extreme Geek Zone here, but there will be some visible light (ordinary incandescent light bulbs have a color temperature of 2700K - 2900K). It falls off more quickly at the blue end, you can calculate just how much at 850 or 700 nm from Planck's Law. You'll also need to know the total surface area that's radiating, because that will give you the total energy emitted: E = ST^4, where S is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant = 5.67 x10^-8 W/(m^2 K^4). T again is in K, area in square meters, and yes the total energy is extremely sensitive to T. Now all you need is the algal response ...

Rafael et al,
The radiant energy of coal combustion is high-quality heat energy, thermodynamically speaking. If one divert this radiant energy to grow algae, then we would have less energy available to produce electricity, whereas solar radiant energy is free to use.

Unless, quite ingeniously, you are contemplating a short-cut scheme for CTL, turning coal energy directly into algae oil in one step, and then the whole steam turbine apparatus would merely serve to recycle the waste heat of the new "Seidl's" direct one-step CTL process. :) If you can raise the combustion temp of the coal enough to get wavelength of light in the photosynthesis range, and then line up around the coal combustion chamber with glass walls (E-glass with low infrared transmittance) as thermal barrier, and then place the algae bioreactors all around the glass wall, you might have a deal!!

For me, I'd go the IGCC route for cleaner and higher efficiency usage of the coal energy, and wait til the mornin' for the sun to rise before growing any algae oil. The CO2 produced in the night can be stored til the morning.

US is slightly off record corn harvest of 2004 due to less favorable weather. Hopefully it will be different this year.

Due to global warming trend, less droughts and extreme weather events are participated, and productivity of plants are on the rise.

Sizeable increase of agricultural (including corn) yields are attributed to carbon dioxide fertilizing effect, which is luckily on-going. Significant part of this effect is attributed to less moisture perspiration loss, and as a result more corn fields are less rely on artificial irrigation.

GM corn is a wild card offering significant increase in corn yield per acre in years to come.

Use of corn for fuel ethanol production is stabilizing corn prices, which is extremely good thing for American/Canadian farmers and contributes for stable and increased agricultural production. US agricultural export reached 70 billion $ in 2004 (in 2004 dollars), and rising.

20% usage of corn for fuel ethanol is the best possible news from the point of view of food security: all of it could be converted over season to feed people, not cars, if something weird will happened.

All in all, from 5 to 10% of corn ethanol used to blend in gasoline stock is a good news for everybody, except for comfortably positioned in their arm-chairs dooms-dayers.

For everything else there is Master Card.

Sorry.

Previous post was intended to be on other tread line.

Sorry.

Hi all

I'm not certain about these strands of algae (actually it is a cyanobacteria, i.e. a prokaryote, not an eucaryote.....biiiig difference), but higher algae (eucaryotes), such as Kappaphycus (red), Enteromorpha (green), Fucus (brown) all have their diurnal rhythm, which mean that they absorb light during day through the photosynthesis, and thereafter respirate ("dark reaction" to acquire carbon). These algae use C3-carbon fixation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C3_carbon_fixation) through the Calvin cycle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_cycle), which originated from the archea (cyanobacteria). So... I guess the archea of these plants need darkness in a standardized way.

In my master thesis I played around with artificial light and red algae and managed to stress them to death by exposing them to light 24/7, and it took just 4 days. While stressed the produced hydroperoxide (H2O2) which is poisionous for attackers (grazers) and themselves. So without constant circulation of fresh water they poisioned themselves and the effectivness of the photosynthesis (i.e. O2-production which I measured) while stressed decreased constantly until nekrosis.

Btw... algae/archea that lives in a constant light (i.e. high latitudes during summer et vice versa) do have a diurnal rhythm in floating and sinking to preserve this rhythm.... pretty cool!

I think the design they have rotates the stream up the stack in the dark (to absorb the CO2) and then into the daylight to fix it.

I wonder what they will do about nitrogen - will they be using fertilizer or a N2 fixing strain? Heterocysts are amazing things.

PS Lunken, did you try any genetic manipulation of cyanobacteria? Is it as easy as, say E.coli or B.subtilis?

Why build photobioreactors? They cost a lot of energy to make, their manufacture produces vast amounts of CO2 and they're quite expensive. Ordinary plants grow their own photobioreactors, made from strong biopolymers. No need to build steel and glass ones.

I wonder what they will do about nitrogen

Same as in any flue-scavenging bioreactor: air + heat = NOx.

I agree, nature has done a marvelous job in creating plants. Algae is interesting because it grows so fast, but plants just grow without special equipment. 30 million acres of switchgrass just to preserve the soil with their root systems is an example. The roots go down 10 feet and hold the soil. They continue to grow for 10 years and all you have to do is mow this natural solar collector.

Thanks, Lunken, for sharing your expertise in algae culturing. Indeed, plants, like human, need rest also for proper functioning, so 27/4 growth would be out of the question.
I forgot to mention in my previous posting that the efficiency of photosynthesis of even very fast-growing algae is about ~10-12%, while steam turbines can produce electricity at 35-40% thermal efficiency. So, using radiant light energy from coal combustion to power algae oil production (new CTL process) would not be efficient at all, unless free sunlight is used.

Why not have the gov't fix the oil price at $60 and use the net difference to fund renewable biofuels???

It seems like a no brainer to me.

Gents -

thx for your insights. Looks like the algae could not produce 24/7 anyhow and the wavelengths produced during combustion are poorly suited.

Temporary sequestration of CO2 produced at night and in winter sounds more doable. During the day and in summer, the CO2 store would depleted, eliminating lengthy discussion with NIMBYs about how safe and permanent full-blown sequestration would really be. Besides, the reservoir would be much smaller.

The cheapest way to implement large-scale algaculture with CO2 enrichment might be to site one or more coal-fired power plants near a large natural body of water and pipe the scrubbed flue gas via a heat exchanger into a large cordoned-off section of open water. Certain places would be better suited than others, e.g. the Isthmus of Corinth (Greece) or the northern end of the Sea of Cortez (Baja California). Of course, there would be a big impact on local fisheries and tourism, so any such scheme would have to be considered very carefully. However, harvesting the algae would provide new jobs.

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