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OriginOil Partners With Desmet Ballestra to Commercialize Single-Step Extraction Technology for Algae Oil
5 May 2009
OriginOil, Inc., the developer of a new extraction process for algae oil, and Desmet Ballestra, an Belgium-based supplier of oil extraction systems, are partnering on the commercialization of OriginOil’s Single Step Extraction technology.
|The OriginOil Single-Step Extraction system. Click to enlarge.|
OriginOil CEO and President Riggs Eckelberry announced the partnership during the National Algae Association’s fifth quarterly meeting.
Conventional algae oil extraction systems use petrochemical or alcohol solvents to extract algae oil. In this process, the largest amount of energy consumption comes from the initial steps of dewatering and drying the algal biomass.
Single Step Extraction allows oil separation from biomass with no dewatering or drying required, which can reduce energy use by as much as 90%, for total energy cost as little as $200 per metric ton of algae oil at full scale production, according to the company.
In the process, what OriginOil terms “Quantum Fracturing” combines with electromagnetism and pH modification to break down cell walls, thereby releasing the oil within the cells. Algae oil rises to the top for skimming and refining, while the remaining biomass settles to the bottom for further processing as fuel and other valuable products.
OriginOil says Quantum Fracturing is based on the science of mass transfer and fluid fracturing and addresses some of the challenges of industrializing algae oil production. Using Quantum Fracturing, water, carbon dioxide and other nutrients are fractured at very high pressure to create a slurry of micron-sized nutrition-bubbles, which is then channeled to the algae culture awaiting it in a lower-pressure growth vessel, the Helix BioReactor.
This process achieves total and instantaneous distribution of nutrients to the algae culture without fluid disruption or aeration. The pressure differentials between the two zones substantially increase contact and exchange between the micronized nutrients and the algae culture.
OriginOil says that its Single-Step Extraction technology also requires significantly less capital expenditure per ton of oil extracted. Conventional oil extraction systems utilizing petrochemical and alcohol solvents are rather complex and need to be large-scaled to keep the capital cost per ton of oil within reason. In contrast, the OriginOil Single Step Extraction technology does not require a petrochemical solvent, such as hexane, which is known to require an extensive permitting process before implementation, thus allowing for a more cost-effective production of algal oil.
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