GSPI Algae-To-Biodiesel Phase II Demonstration Project Successful; Negotiations Underway for 100-Acre Facility
Green Star Products, Inc. (GSPI) has successfully completed Phase II of its 40,000-liter Algae-To-Biodiesel Demonstration Facility in Montana. (Earlier post.) Phase II testing included pushing the survival environmental envelope of the developed algae strain (zx-13) utilized by GSPI.
GSPI’s Hybrid Algae Production System (HAPS) incorporates the controlled environment of the closed photobioreactors with the inexpensive construction technology of an open pond system.
The zx-13 strain survived at elevated temperatures, much higher than any tested in most of the available literature over the last 50 years. Temperature testing by universities usually cuts off at 90 °F, this zx-13 strain successfully endured peak temperatures of 115 °F for several hours on successive days.—Joseph LaStella, President of GSPI
GSPI also tested salinity levels outside the normal operating range for saltwater algae and the zx-13 strain exhibited strong survivability. The zx-13 strain also exhibited acceptable 21% oil content. The balance of the biomass is being tested for high-grade protein content to be used as animal feed and organic fertilizer.
However, GSPI did not anticipate the exponential growth of the algae. Algae harvesting occurred sooner than expected and GSPI had not yet received all harvesting equipment. GSPI harvesting techniques allow only the algae cells larger than 2 microns to be captured and the smaller size algae returned to the pond to reproduce.
In an effort to harvest as soon as possible, a 1,750 rpm vane pump was used instead of a slurry pump and resulted in shearing and damaging the smaller algae cells returning to the pond, which caused a temporary pond shutdown.
This is not an operational problem, it's only part of the learning curve.—Joseph LaStella
The success of the Montana demonstration facility has paved the way for the next stage, which is a 100-acre production facility. At the present time GSPI is in negotiations in three states—California, Missouri and Utah—for this 100-acre facility. One of the considerations in site selection is the ability to expand to a much larger facility of 500 to 1,000 acres, according to GSPI.