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Green Star Products Provides Update on Algae Demonstration Facility

The Green Star demonstration pond.

Green Star Products, Inc. (GSPI) has completed Phase I of its 40,000 liter microalgae demonstration pond in Montana.

The goal of the Phase I process was to resolve operational problems for algae production involving the temperature of water in large systems, salinity, evaporation, pH and the initial cost of construction. Phase II will see the introduction of algae to the pond.

There are two basic approaches to cultivating algae for fuel crops: closed photobioreactors and open pond systems. GSPI’s Hybrid Algae Production System (HAPS) that incorporates the controlled environment of the closed photobioreactors with the inexpensive construction technology of an open pond system.

The demonstration HAPS system in Montana has an individual pond capacity of 40,000 liters.  The 40,000-liter pond with a four-person crew was assembled in less than 12 hours after the necessary construction materials were onsite.

During the test period, the pond experienced temperatures varying from 34°F to 82°F, winds up to 30 mph, heavy rains, some snow, cloudy and sunny periods. The enclosed HAPS kept pond temperatures 30°F to 36°F higher than the outside temperature on cold nights—well above the optimum minimum growing temperature for algae of 64°F.

The HAPS can also use additional external temperature controls, if necessary, to cool ponds in the hot summer and heat ponds in winter conditions during extended sunless days to maintain maximum growth conditions.

GSPI’s HAPS enclosed ponds have a partial light barrier to promote optimum light conditions—25% to 50% direct sunlight—for algae photosynthesis.

In separate algae news, PetroSun announced that its Algae BioFuels subsidiary issued an exclusive algae-to-biofuel production technology license to ETC Energy for the Native American markets. ETC Energy will seek to enter into joint venture agreements with Native American tribes to produce biodiesel, electricity and animal feed from the algae-to-biofuel technology within tribal lands.



Something seems right about letting the experts do these pilot programs and see what works cost effectively. I think a lot of people can imagine many ponds growing fuel in the future. The whole earth is a solar collector and fossil fuels are just stored solar energy.


It's nice to see several companies competing for the best method. This is capitalism at work.

Mike Z.

Is that built on a tennis court?

Also I hate to seem pessimistic, but all they have done is deal with the temperature changes of a pond of water, they still have to overcome algae nutrient mixing, co2 injection, agitation, etc. Long way to go.

C Harget

Why are they doing this in Montana? Access to farm waste? Wouldn't it make more sense to do these near the Salton Sea where there's plenty of (problematic) farm waste run-off and a much longer and more intense growing season? Is this freshwater algae?

Paul Dietz

Why are they doing this in Montana?

Lots of coal in Montana.


They are doing this in Montana to be close to Frank Zappa's dental floss farm. Assuming they can harvest hydrocarbons from the algae, the world will have renewable dental floss for the first time.

P Schager

The system "incorporates the controlled environment of the closed photobioreactors with the inexpensive construction technology of an open pond system." The ostensible reason NREL shut down the Aquatic Species Program in 1996 was a failure to anticipate this development.


I have worked on methods to keep a body of water warm by making it one large solar collector. Even in the winter in northern latitudes, where the days are short and the sun is low in the sky, the water remains warm enough. They might have done it in Montana to prove that point.



So they are keeping the pond warm with a passive solar design? No fossil fuel inputs to heat the pond?


I also wonder how the construction costs of this system compares to an equivalent volume of PBRs.


I have no idea how all this works. I have not read any details about how they heat or cool the water. It seems like temperature regulation is a major hurdle in this operation and that is what they are addressing now. It seems simple, but I bet in practice it is more than a bit elusive.


I am excited about the potential of algae as long as we manage to steer clear of genetically modified strains, but I am sure this is already in the works. I think Green Star is a significant leader in the biodiesel business and wish them luck with this project.

I have never been a real fan of co-locating bio-reactors with coal plants as this perpetuates the same tightly controlled and centralized energy infrastructure we see today.

We need diverse, integrated, localized, community scaled technologies that keeps energy, food, manufacturing, etc. closer to home.

Sustainability requires that we become far more efficient than we are today, which means learning to use indigenous resources whenever possible. This is not our only path forward, but by far the most desirable in my opinion.

I am hoping to work with closed loop shallow raceways rather than vertical pods or larger ponds and believe these raceways will yield a lower cost per unit of algae produced.

I am interested in learning more about algae harvesting and lipid extraction processes. Also I think more work needs to be done in recovering and converting the organic fraction of municipal solid waste materials into a form that allows for easy assimilation by the algae. Between waste water treatment and solid waste, algae may become a very key in helping us to convert wastes into a closed loop resource and energy cycle.

From what I have been reading of late, algae to ethanol might be worth a look.


Take the CO2 produced from ethanol production and feed it to the algae. Then you get ethanol and bio diesel.


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Cheryl Ho

There are DMe developments in China today:

DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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