Australia-based renewable fuels company Muradel has launched Australia’s first integrated demonstration plant for the sustainable conversion of algae into green crude, as a first step towards a commercial plant with the potential to produce 80 million liters (21 million gallons US, or about 500,000 barrels) of crude oil per year.
The $10.7-million demonstration plant at Whyalla, South Australia (on the north-western coast of Spencer Gulf, northwest of Adelaide) will produce 30,000 liters of green crude a year using the company’s trademarked technology called Green2Black—a suite of advanced harvesting, extraction and sub-critical water reactor technologies. (Green2Black = green environmentally, but black in color like its fossil crude equivalent.) Green2Black is an efficient closed-loop process that recycles its waste products.
|Muradel algae pond. Click to enlarge.|
Using microalgae produced on site, plant biomass and organic waste, Muradel’s energy-efficient subcritical water reactor converts them in minutes to a crude oil that is functionally equivalent to fossil crude. The green crude is then refined in the same way as crude oil into gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels.
The microalgae is sustainably grown in seawater ponds and is a resilient strain that has proven productive all year in Australia’s sunny conditions.
Muradel expects production costs would be on par with the cost of producing fossil fuels for transport.
“The algae ponds will also act as carbon sinks that can capture greenhouse gas emissions produced by Whyalla’s heavy industry,” Muradel CEO and University of Adelaide Associate Professor David Lewis said.
The demonstration plant was partially funded through a $4.4-million grant from Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Additional in-kind and financial support came from the Whyalla City Council, the South Australian Government through BioSA, and Muradel’s shareholders.