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Algae Biofuel Company to Grow Miscanthus as Biofuel Feedstock

23 March 2007

AlgoDyne Ethanol Energy, the developers of a proprietary based process to continuously harvest algae biomass from photobioreactors to produce electricity and fuel, is acquiring 3,000 acres of agricultural land in Saskatchewan, Canada, to grow bioenergy crops, including Miscanthus.

The company had originally intended to purchase 800 acres, but decided to increase the amount.

AlgoDyne says that it discovered that by applying certain aspects of its proprietary enzyme technology gained from its micro-algae research to grain crops and especially to Miscanthus, the production of ethanol from “land-grown biomass” can be sustainable economically.

AlgoDyne says it will establish its own biomass distribution network to supply the biomass for ethanol production.

Miscanthus is a genus of about 15 species of perennial grasses. Miscanthus giganteus or “E-grass” has been trialed as a biofuel in Europe since the early 1980s. It can grow to heights of more than 3.5m in one growth season. Its dry weight annual yield can reach 25t/ha (10t/acre).

AlgoDyne says that its main focus still lies on the development of micro-algae as the primary source of biomass for ethanol production.

AlgoDyne plans to use its harvested algae to offer multiple end products: ethanol via fermentation, biodiesel via oil extraction and transesterification; biomethane via anaerobic digestion; or electricity from a direct alcohol fuel cell.

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March 23, 2007 in Biomass, Cellulosic ethanol, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)

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1000 gallons per acre might get $1000, but 1 megawatt per acre of solar electric could get 100 times that much.

An acre of ground has only a bit over 4000 m^2 of area; you'd have to have mighty high-grade PV cells and a totally clear day to get a megawatt out of it.

I am all in favor of algae for fuel. It just makes sense. Think of the advances we have made in harvesting crops such as corn. They are huge. Seeing that comparatively little work has been done on algae harvesting, is there any reason to NOT be hopeful?

Spectrolab has 35% efficient concentrator cells. Use an ORC to generator more from the concentrated heat and you will get to 1 megawatt.

It seems to me that in addition to peak power, PV's should also be rated according to watt-hours per day or per month or whatever. The total energy is probably more important to most consumers than peak power. Maybe a simple number between zero and one, dependant on the location of the collector, to mutiply times the Power number.

I hope Algodyne well but I fear that they are another fly by night operation that will soon be out of business like Earth Biofuels. A check on Yahoo finance shows that Algodyne is actually a textile reclamation company that only recently changed its name and mission.

They have only $36K in cash and last year had less than a quarter million in revenue.

How this textile firm, who has no prior experience in biofuels, and is completely broke, plans on becoming a world leader is questionable, at least in my view.

I honestly hope that I am wrong, but I honestly don't think that AlgoDyne will become the Exxon of tomorrow. Algeafuels are coming but its unlikely to be from these guys or their ilk like Earth Biofuels, struggling firms who decided one day to rename themselves as biofuel companies in hope of pumping up their share prices.

PV produces for about 2000 hours per year. If the power sells for $.10 per Kwh, that would make 1 kw pay about $200 per year. If you could only get 500kw from an acre, that would be $100k per year. The point being, you can get more revenue from an acre of land with PV than from ethanol.

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Nothing. But it says that if we can get lower cost PV, we may have a future for EVs.

PV is already cheap enough to compete with gas at $5/gallon; even $3/gallon is roughly a wash.  However, it's going to be some time before PV will be cheap enough to compete with self-replicating nanoassemblers which organize themselves into macro-scale energy-rich structures ready for human harvest and use (e.g. plants).

I agree plants are cheaper and just grow. But if I am land limited and need the acreage to grow food, PV and EV look pretty good.

Sjc, revenue is a totally useless figure to be bandying about.

If I was an investor the figure I'd be looking for would be net earnings.

For 4000m2 of solar panels (assume 1.25Kw/m2 peak output) even at $1 per watt you're looking at a bill of $5 million dollars for your acre of solar panels.
To borrow $5 million dollars over 30 years amortisation would cost you about $300,000 dollars a year.

So with an revenue stream of $200,000 dollars a year you'll make a loss of $100k.

Which neatly explains why there aren't acres of solar panels in Canada.

Andy

Oh, I realize the economics. By the way, at $1 per watt installed, 1 megawatt would cost $1 million. Sometimes things can be done because they are the right thing to do, even if they are not the most profitable. If we have cleaner air and fewer wars, that might be an external benefit offsetting costs.

Your figure of "(assume 1.25Kw/m2 peak output)" makes no sense.
Where are you getting 1.25Kw and why would you divide it by M2?

Conventional panels produce about 150 watts per square meter, so I do not know what you are trying to say.
I was not referring to conventional panels anyway, I was referring to concentrator cells.

If oil goes over $100 per barrel and electricity starts to cost more than $.20 per Kwh, then it starts to look better. As demand for fossil fuels increases and the supply decreases, you might expect that to happen. After all, that may be why they call this site Green Car Congress. I might be because we are trying to make the cars we drive more eco friendly.


1) If corn ethanol is so great why is it being subsidized by $6 billion per year ?

2) In fact, why are the subsidies per gallon of corn ethanol 90 times the subsidies for a
gallon of gasoline ? I am not for any subsidies.

3) 20% of U.S. corn is being converted into 5 billion gallons of ethanol that represents
only 1% of U.S. gas use ! If 100% of U.S. corn, ie, ALL US corn were converted
into ethanol, this would represent only 7% of U.S. gas use. What are your plans to reduce
daily gas use by 93% ? Are you prepared to tell everyone that there will be no corn left
for food ?

4) Why are the enormous environmental impacts of corn ethanol production not being taken into
account ?

5) Why do you keep ignoring that corn production causes more soil erosion than any other
crop grown ?

6) Why do you consistently ignore that corn production uses more nitrogen fertilizer than
any other crop grown ?

7 Why do you ignore that nitrogen runoff from the corn fields is the prime cause of the
dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico ?

8) Why do you ignore that corn production uses more insecticides than any other crop
grown ?

9) Why do you blatantly ignore that corn production uses more herbicides than any other
crop grown ?

10) Why do you ignore that more than 1,700 gallons of water are required to produce 1
gallon of ethanol ?

11) Why do you ignore that 6 to 12 gallons of sewage effluent are released per gallon of
corn ethanol produced ?

12) Why do you ignore that enormous quantities of carbon dioxide are produced, including
the large quantity of fossil energy used in production, large quantities of carbon
dioxide are released during fermentation, and when the soil is tilled soil organic matter
is exposed and oxidized ?

13) Why do you irresponsibly ignore that all the above speeds global warming instead of
reducing it ?

14)Why do you ignore that related to the total operation, including the burning of the
ethanol, the air pollution problem is significant ?

15) Why do you ignore that several published scientific papers form UC Berkeley & Cornell
University (not pamphlets printed by the DOE, USDA or corn lobby pundits after taxpayers money)
show that one burns 1 gallon of gasoline equivalent in fossil fuels to produce 1 gallon of gasoline
equivalent as ethanol from corn ?

16) Why do you ignore that when this corn ethanol is burned as a gasoline additive or
fuel, its use amounts to burning the same amount of fuel twice to drive a car once ?

17) Why do you ignore that the fuel efficiency of those cars that burn corn ethanol is
effectively halved ?

18) Why do you ignore that the widespread
use of corn ethanol will cause manifold damage to air, surface water, soil and aquifers ?

19) Why do you ignore that the overall energy balance of corn conversion to ethanol
demonstrates that 65% of the input energy is lost during the conversion ?

20) Why do you ignore that carbon dioxide sequestration by corn is nullified when corn
ethanol is burned, and there will be additional carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and
sulfur oxide emissions from the fossil fuels used to produce the ethanol ?

21) Why are the true costs of using biofuels being systematically ignored by folks who should not ignore them ?

22) The above scenario is identical to other biomass/biofuels, including the subsidies, minus the studies that have not been done concerning the burning of vegetable biofuels & their associated carcinogenic products of combustion. Why do you ignore this ?


Gee whiz Archi,

lighten up. This is a story about algal oil, which if harvested from oceans would have few of your complaints. Nobody seriously thinks corn is going to fuel transportation. But it's a nice demo to show us biofuels are viable alternatives to petro. People like corn flakes too much to burn them for fuel!

Archi:
looks like somebody got short squeesed on PEIX/AVR/VSE/USBE.

Your right Archi and windmills kill birds,vast arrays of solar will alter the ecosystem of the deserts,nuclear has the waste issue etc. I am just going to start a business to put homes on stilts and profit from rising waters.

EP, your reference is to a family business selling a metal box to heat a home with corn - not fuel cars. And at that they are sorely misinformed as they claim 2 bushels of corn produce 1M BTUs at a cost of $2.20/bushel. Last I checked the Chicago Board trades a bushel at $4.03 a bushel making their claim in error nearly 100%.

But I suppose there are advantages to eating half your cornflakes and H-eating your home with the other half.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/16/bloomberg/bxcom.php

solar cannot compete with fuel when it comes to storage and portability. There wlll always be a market for fuels/bio fuels regardless of overall energy efficiency unless a battery as efficient as a gas tank is invented.

It is not so much the gas tank but the overall efficiency. If the battery is 80% efficient round trip and the electric motor and controller are 80% efficient that is more than 60% overall. If the gas tank is 100% efficient, and the engine is 20% efficient...well you get the idea.

Sjc:

Consider another math.

Gasoline from oil conversion is 0.85 efficient, regular hybrid vehicle is 30%, hence overall efficiency is 25%.

Electricity from fossil fuel is 40% efficient, transmission is 95%, battery 80%, electric motors 80% - we got 24%.

Overall - comparable numbers.

But of course electricity could be from hydro, nuclear, renewables, or combined cycle NG with 60% efficiency. Gasoline currently and in foreseen future is almost exclusively from oil.

Andrey, you seem to be using the most pessimistic numbers I've ever seen for electric efficiencies. e.g. 40% is the number I have for the worst of the coal plants.

Average efficiency of US coal-steam plants is in the neighborhood of 33%.  However, regular hybrid vehicles aren't that good either.

there are DME developments in China today:
We see great potential for DME as a clean alternative fuel . The present diesel oil is a major source of air pollution from diesel engine of trucks and busses in large city like Tokyo. The potential market of diesel oil substitute is larger than LPG. DME is one of ideal fuel for diesel engine. DME vehicles were demonstratively manufactured in Japan, China and Korea and their driving test already started. Practical durability fleet test of a DME truck is under going in Japan.

We are pleased to organise a conference on China taking the lead in the DME market in production from coal and Japan and Korea activities.

If you would like to know more on COAL to Syngas to DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:


DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
By:
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
By:
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

My apologies that my web site is still under construction. I seek a company that combines an organic garden/agricultural fertilizer product with production of biofuel. I want to work for such a company that manufactures and distributes both products. Fascinating dialogs here. I wish all of you well.

Corn does not have the highest soil erosion. Soybeans are worse. Go to Iowa and see what beans do to its loess soils. Most corn is now farmed minimum-till or no-till, which leaves a lot of trash in the field after harvest and binds the soil. Besides, corn ethanol is a transition thing. First came corn crop surpluses, then came ethanol as a way to add value to unmarketable grain. Not the other way around.

No farmer gets Chicago Board of Trade prices. The farther you are from Chicago, New Orleans or the west coast, the lower the price you get at the local grain elevator. Farmers buy retail, sell wholesale and pay the freight both ways.

If a Saskatchewan farmer can get half of that $1,000 per acre for a perennial biomass fuel crop, he would be ecstatic. I don't think most of the posters on GCC really understand farming. Let me, as a retired farmer, try to explain what would be involved in biomass fuel production, from the farmer perspective.

Corn sucks. Any farmer will tell you that. It's expensive to put in, it's hard on machinery, it requires large operating capital debt, it demands nutrients and water like a Little Shop of Horrors plant. Feed me Seymor. But it generally returns the highest net income per acre. (Sugar beets bring in more, but that's a crop that sucks even worse than corn.)

We have crop subsidies on "program crops" like corn, wheat, beans because our minimum wage, the Commodity Credit Corporation loan rate, which sets a value for grain as collateral for a loan, has been kept artificially low for decades. Blame Nixon and Earl Butz, if you want to. This drives down the price of grain way below the break-even point. The subsidies are there so that we don't all go out of business and you can continue to eat. We subsidize you with cheap food.

There's huge interest in farm country for sustainable energy production, what we call the "Third Crop" movement. It would allow us to get out of the corn/beans/debt-over-our-ears rat race.

Let's go back to Saskatchewan. If your land is between the Frost Belt and the Drought Belt, you can figure on about 14 inches moisture per year and a 120 day growing season. This is wheat/canola country. Let's say for wheat you average 30 to 40 bushels per acre at a long term average price of $4 per bushel in today's money. That's $120 to $160 per acre gross income. You can see that $500 for a perennial biomass crop sounds much more attractive, especially since you won't be planting, fertilizing or spraying it every year. Simpler machinery, less operating debt, more cash flow. It's a no-brainer.

Runge and Senauer think the big problem for the future is that we'll plant nothing but corn for ethanol and we'll all starve. They completely miss the boat. (Well, they are economists, not farmers.) When perennial biomass crops become viable, we won't want to plant corn, period. Full stop. The prairies will go back to being grasslands.

If 80% of road miles are done in cars that get 80 miles per gallon (doable, if they're small--90% of the time we drive solo anyway) then we'll supply you with the portable fuel you need from a sustainable source, while sequestering carbon, protecting soil and producing wildlife benefits on the side. In addition, once the cellulose molecule has been snipped to free its glucose from being bound in a long chain, we now have available the carbohydrate fraction of feed. We'll all become herbivores, so to speak.

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