Algal Fuels Consortium (AFC) Wins $2.724M Australian Development Grant; Commercial Partner Sancon Has Rights for Commercialization in China
The Algal Fuel Consortium (AFC) recently won an A$2.724-million (US$2.259 million) research grant under the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism’s Second Generation Biofuels program in Australia. The grant will support the development of microalgal mass cultivation systems to generate biomass from captured CO2 emissions. This will then be used as a feedstock to a pilot-scale second generation biorefinery for sustainable production of biodiesel and value-added products.
Sancon Resources Recovery Inc., an environmental services and waste recycling company with operations in both China and Australia, is the founding commercial partner to the AFC and has the right to commercialize the technology for China.
AFC comprises the Sancon Recycling Pty Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Sancon Resources Recovery Inc.); Government of South Australia; South Australian Research & Development Institute (SARDI); Flinders University; Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO); and Flinders Partners.
Sancon Recycling has committed to at least matching the funding for the pilot project. Flinders Partners is the commercialization agent for the AFC.
This truly collaborative research project will produce biomass from native strains of microalgae, from which biodiesel will be produced on a scale that is commercially viable. At the same time, the project will produce high value by-products including Omega-3 fatty acids, bioactive peptides and carotenoids used by the nutraceutical industry.—Rob Thomas, Chair of the Algal Fuels Consortium and Chief, Aquatic Systems at SARDI
This renewable energy project is a step forward from the small-scale research conducted to date by the AFC partners. Under this project, the consortium partners will improve native microalgal strains to be grown in ponds optimized for productivity, with carbon and nutrient delivery. The AFC will also develop low-cost and efficient harvesting, dewatering, and oil extraction technologies and perform subsequent bioprocessing to produce high value co-products alongside biodiesel.
The AFC will also undertake economic and life cycle analysis during this project in order to support a full commercial venture. The AFC says it has already attracted interest from a number of major international companies looking to develop large scale renewable energy technologies from microalgae.
The AFC has access to 70 researchers with expertise in algal culture, post combustion carbon capture, harvesting and dewatering, extraction and bioprocessing.
The Australian Government funding will support the construction of 0.4 ha of raceway ponds on Torrens Island adjacent to gas-fired power stations. This will be one of the largest research biorefineries in Australia with the potential to be scaled up to 15 ha.
The existing core business of Sancon Resources Recovery Inc. is to provide environmental and waste recycling services in China and Australia.