Green Star Products to Build 900 Million Gallons per Year of Biodiesel Capacity in South Africa; Integration with Greenfuels’ Algae Bioreactors
14 November 2006
|Green Star biodiesel reactor heading to South Africa.|
Green Star Products has signed an agreement with De Beers Fuel Limited of South Africa to build 90 biodiesel reactors. Each of the biodiesel reactors will be capable of producing 10 million gallons of biodiesel each year for a total production capacity of 900,000,000 gallons per year when operating at full capacity.
The output from the 90 reactors will be 4 times greater than the entire US output of biodiesel in 2006.
The 2-ton reactors will be built by GSPI at their Glenns Ferry Facility in Idaho and delivered over the next 18 months. The first reactor was shipped November 8, 2006 by airfreight to South Africa. Presently, the De Beers plant is now operating at 10 million gallons per year on sunflower seed oil as feedstock and has contracted for additional feedstock for additional plants.
The companies believe, however, that the ultimate answer for biodiesel feedstock will be algae. While soybean produces 48 gallons of oil per acre per year and canola produces 140 gallons per acre, algae can produce more than 10,000 gallons per acre.
De Beers has entered into an agreement with Greenfuel Technologies Corporation (earlier post), and has purchased and removed the MIT bioreactor from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and transported it to South Africa.
The Greenfuel reactor has been reassembled on the De Beers biodiesel plant site in Naboomspruit, South Africa, and is now awaiting the arrival of the algae to be inoculated to start production. At the Naboomspruit site construction will soon be underway at the rail spur for a crushing plant to process oil from the planting of sunflowers throughout the region. Mr. de Beer also supports, along with the development of the algae growth technology, the local farming industry that will benefit with the planting of thousands of acres of sunflowers and other feedstocks for oils to be processed into biodiesel fuel.
The de Beers business model includes a franchising strategy for independent operators to license biodiesel reactors. This franchising strategy is a worldwide first, according to the companies.
The franchising plan reduces the initial cost of the biodiesel plant significantly for participants. Franchises will only be paying in the range of 10 cents per installed gallon (depending on location and logistics), while the rest of the industry is paying $0.70 to $1.50 per installed gallon.
Most of the 90 franchised biodiesel plants are located close to electric power plants as well as other CO2 emitters, to utilize their stack emissions to feed the algae farms when they switch over feedstock from oil seed crops to algae.
Note that for historical reasons South Africa produces a lot of CTL diesel via the SASOL process. The product is clean but expensive, perhaps more so than biodiesel from algae. In any case, if the South Africans manage to perfect the business model they may have an export winner on their hands.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 14 November 2006 at 02:15 AM
If they do manage to produce oil from algae at that kind of land density at those kinds of volumes, this could well be the biggest story yet posted on greencarcongress. In my opinion!
Posted by: clett | 14 November 2006 at 04:32 AM
These lads are going to make some BIG bucks long term.
Posted by: Neil | 14 November 2006 at 06:49 AM
900 million may sound like a lot, but is a mere drop in the bucket of the 200 times larger US fuel market.
Posted by: kent beuchert | 14 November 2006 at 07:36 AM
Another step along the algae oil road. When I see a massive project like this get under way in the United States, I'll be much happier.
Posted by: Cervus | 14 November 2006 at 08:30 AM
900 million gallons is around 3.4 million tons and thats quite a lot.
South Africa wants to become a major Energy exporter and infact they are building Pebble bed nuclear reactor which will be fail-safe and also they are increasing the Coal exports.
Posted by: Max Reid | 14 November 2006 at 08:35 AM
And why isn't an operation like this being undertaken in the US before S. Africa??? The 2 ton reactors are built here in the US, so shouldn't the US be leading the way with algaculture?? It seems like what's holding algae produced biodiesel back is bailouts to US farmers. The push for ethanol is little more than that too. When it comes to efficiency for total production of biodiesel and land use, I don't see how anyone can make the argument for soybeans. Soybean biodiesel is like someone trying to make copies of books by hand
Things will probably change greatly in a few years when all of the large car manufacturers have brought low NOx emmitting diesel cars to the US. I'm sure most of the readers of GCC are aware that most all manufacturers have already announced plans to do so. I can't wait to see what things look like 10 years from now.
Posted by: DB | 14 November 2006 at 09:26 AM
I would rather get my energy (especially biofuels) from South Africa than from the Persian Gulf any day. However, you may want to do some additional research before you tout any type of nuclear reactor.
Compared to traditional PWR designs, pebble-bed nuclear reactors offer an inherent safeguards against nuclear weapons proliferation, because the plutonium is so hard to extract. South Africa had a few undeclared nukes back in the apartheid era but FW Klerk dismantled them.
For the same reason, spent pebbles cannot easily be reprocessed. This leads directly to high demand for primary uranium and ultimate disposal capacity, both of which are quite limited.
Moreover, the pebbles must be manufactured to exacting standards. One actually got stuck during the spent pebble extraction process in a test reactor in Germany and broke when staff used excessive force to remove it, exposing them to lethal radiation. The mechanics of the problem were roughly analogous to blockages observed in grain silos.
Posted by: Rafael Seidl | 14 November 2006 at 09:41 AM
Global Green Solutions is currently building a demonstration photo-bioreactor algal facility based on the Valcent Inc. Vertigrow process in Texas. Their plant is due online in July 07 and can produce 4M gallons annually. Vertigrow is designed to sequester power utility CO2 and will sell the credits along with by-products.
The South Africans appear to have no need to test the process or ramp up. U.S. farmers still gain revenues from feedstock crops until and if the algae process succeeds. If 1B gal = 0.5% of U.S. fuel demand, there is plenty of room for every feedstock plausible and lots of franchises.
The race is on...
Posted by: gr | 14 November 2006 at 02:56 PM
How does the cost of producing one liter of biodiesel from algae compare to the cost of one litre of ethanol from sugar cane ?
Posted by: HChiang | 15 November 2006 at 05:10 AM
The Green Star system employs a closed-loop, very small footprint, near-zero GHG emmitting process, which is, seemingly, near perfect for a franchise business model. One could surmise that California is watching these interesting developments very closely, with perhaps an eye to massively deploying this technology in future which was, after all, permitted and built there first!
Having a partnership with DeBeers would seem to be a large vote of confidence I believe. Hey, maybe one for my area..
Posted by: Steve Howe | 16 November 2006 at 01:27 AM
Ethanol production creates CO2. You could have an ethanol plant that extracts the oil from the DDGto make biodiesel and uses the CO2 to grow algae to make more biodiesel. All this seems possible, but it remains to be seen if the "invisible hand" of the market system will fill this need.
Posted by: SJC | 17 November 2006 at 10:01 AM
Enjoyed the article and am interested in the potential of algae being converted to Biodiesel.
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