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GreenFuel experimented with growing algae in tubes and bags at its Arizona pilot farm. While most of its competitors are sticking to these methods, GreenFuels has developed a closely-guarded greenhouse technologies which grows algae at higher yields and an automated system to harvest the crop. It will be debutting this setup at a commercial scale plant in Spain, to be complete in 2011.  (Source: PetroAlgae)
Algae company's harvest will make biodiesel, nutritious livestock feed

Many in the alternative fuels industry agree that algae is where the mid-range future of the biodiesel industry lies.  While fuels such as ethanol and cellulosic ethanol may prevail in the short term, algae is seen as the final stepping stone before full synthetic gasoline production.  This value is due to algae's ability to grow rich long chain hydrocarbons.  When algae is genetically engineered, it can produce large amounts of oil that is essentially diesel grade. 

The big question with algae tech is not whether it will arrive, but when it will arrive.  DailyTech had previously followed Cambridge, Mass. based GreenFuel Technologies' effort to bring its specially bred algae to the market.  The company, founded by MIT graduates, had built a pilot farm in Arizona, previously.  By growing algae in tubes, it found that algae would get optimal sun exposure.  Its only problem was that it grew too much algae, blocking out light, and eventually killing part of the crop.

Now GreenFuel is taking its experience and has become the first algae company to announce a profitable business deal and the construction of a commercial scale growth facility.   Spain's Aurantia, a leading alternative energy investment firm, has agreed to pay GreenFuels $92M to build a 100 hectacre (250 acre) algae farm.  The farm will produce 25,000 tons of biomass yearly.

GreenFuel, which recently celebrated its 7th anniversary, already has a 100 square-meter prototype greenhouse operating at the site in Spain.  GreenFuel ditched the growing tubes, opting for a top-secret tubeless proprietary growing process, one which includes automated harvesting.  Thus far the company has declined to reveal the secretive workings of this new design.

It has, however, announced its intention to scale the production up quickly.  It plans to have a 1,000 square-meter installation online by the end of the year.  The full farm is scheduled to be completed by 2011. 

The plant will take carbon dioxide emissions from the nearby Holcim cement plant near Jerez, Spain and use it to increase algae yields.  This will cut down on Holcim cement plant near Jerez, Spain, almost 10 percent of the factory's output.  This will help the factory meet tougher emissions standards.

The developers are in the process of selecting which strains of algae to grow.  Certain strains are optimized for biodiesel production; bred to produce extra oil.  Other strains produce extra nutrients like protein and make for more nutritious animal feed.

CEO Simon Upfill-Brown acknowledges that the field is full of overly optimistic visions, but insists his company is firmly grounded in reality and a series of successful trials.  He states, "Some people are making clearly outrageous claims. We're at the stage where we can say we are pretty comfortable and very optimistic that we're getting all the way there in phases."

One trouble spot for the upcoming farm is falling gas prices.  With gas low, it may be harder for the farm's biodiesel production to be economically competitive.  This was cited as the resaon for rival Imperium Renewables' delay of its plan to launch a smaller algae farm in Hawaii.


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Symbiotic relationship?
By isorfir on 10/21/2008 11:22:51 AM , Rating: 0
quote:
The plant will take carbon dioxide emissions from the nearby Holcim cement plant near Jerez, Spain and use it to increase algae yields.

What happens if this cement plant goes under for some unforeseen reason? Does that make this plan unprofitable? It’s nice that they are turning carbon dioxide into something useful, but if their business model relies on another company, of which they have no control over, that is not a sound investment.




RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By InvertMe on 10/21/2008 11:29:12 AM , Rating: 4
It's not 100% necessary to add the additional carbon dioxide. It just increases yield.

But in any event your comment holds no merit. Anyone who makes anything relies on others to provide them materials.

Your comment is like saying Car makers shouldn't rely on tire manufactures to make tires for them because they might go out of business and then the car manufacture couldn't make any more cars.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By isorfir on 10/21/2008 11:48:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's not 100% necessary to add the additional carbon dioxide. It just increases yield.

But my question is, is it that yield that makes it profitable? If it is, then they are slaved to the cement producers output.
quote:
But in any event your comment holds no merit. Anyone who makes anything relies on others to provide them materials.

Not really, your example of a car manufacturer could easily make their own tires, it's just less expensive if they buy them from tire making specialists.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By FITCamaro on 10/21/2008 12:36:06 PM , Rating: 4
If it is we can just build a plant in DC near the capitol building. The amount of CO2 from the hot air of all those politicians together could probably quintuple the yield.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By PhoenixKnight on 10/21/2008 8:30:54 PM , Rating: 2
While we're at it, we should research a way to use some sort of bacteria or algae to turn all the bullshit from DC into a usable fuel.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By fibreoptik on 10/23/2008 4:01:51 PM , Rating: 1
Zing! nice 1 FIT :) lol


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Oregonian2 on 10/21/2008 1:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know why you were de-pointed by someone, you make a very good point and inquiry as to whether the cement factory enhancement of yield was crucial to the project being profitable (as opposed to it being functional which the other person seems to be focused on). If their scheme is wildly profitable, then it wouldn't matter. If it is projected to be just slightly profitable, then it may make all the difference in the world.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Oregonian2 on 10/21/2008 1:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - It occurred to me that the other comment may have assumed that they could have gotten the enhanced CO2 from some other source at the same price if they couldn't get it from the cement plant. I would assume the cement plant would at worst "give" the CO2 for free if not actually pay the algae folk to scrub their emissions for them which is what they would have had to do otherwise if they needed to reduce their emissions by other means. An alternative source would be unlikely I think, particularly once the algae plant has been sited and built.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By teldar on 10/21/2008 2:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
But other companies do NOT rely on the byproducts of a particular plant in a particular place for something. I think the question had merit. Yes, other companies rely on products from someone, but how common is it to rely heavily on the product of one plant from one particular place?


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By d0gb0y on 10/21/2008 11:40:03 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
It’s nice that they are turning carbon dioxide into something useful


Wow, imagine a use for that evil carbon dioxide... What, it increases plant growth? How strange. I thought it was a heat generating poison we have to eliminate.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By isorfir on 10/21/2008 11:51:42 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't say it was evil, just a byproduct not being utilized.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Spuke on 10/21/2008 1:44:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I didn't say it was evil, just a byproduct not being utilized.
He wasn't talking about you in particular. It's just that we, as a whole, are fed BS about CO2 being a pollutant when it's really not. It seemed like a sarcastic comment to me about how a supposed pollutant is used to enhance the growth of algae. If it is indeed a pollutant, we shouldn't be using it at all.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By InvertMe on 10/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Schrag4 on 10/21/2008 4:12:36 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
At least that how I understand the concernse about the amount of carbon being put into the world.


...And by "put into the world" you mean "RE-released into the atmosphere, where it originally came from", right? Nobody's putting any carbon into the "world", it's all already here, and always has been. In fact, every last drop of oil originated as carbon that was in the atmosphere at one point, when the earth was much greener than it is now.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By on 10/21/2008 4:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
Oxygen is a pollutant in sufficient quantities. Hence the bends.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By cscpianoman on 10/21/2008 7:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
The bends are primarily caused by dissolved nitrogen in the blood coalescing into bubbles with a quick lowering in surrounding pressure. There is some oxygen dissolved in the blood, but most of it is attached to hemoglobin. Excess oxygen causes reactive oxygen species and free radicals, which leads to DNA, protein and cell membrane damage, which can ultimately lead to cancer or inflammation/cell necrosis.

Sorry, for being a nerd, but I couldn't let this one slip by.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By on 10/21/2008 9:20:38 PM , Rating: 2
ugh... yes i meant nitrogen.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By fibreoptik on 10/23/2008 4:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
Umm... yeah... he meant to say whatever it was that you said :p


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By on 10/21/2008 1:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
You need to expand your logic and thinking beyond the Bible. Not everyting is good / evil or black /white.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Spuke on 10/21/2008 1:51:54 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
You need to expand your logic and thinking beyond the Bible.
You need to expand your maturity level into adulthood by not childishly imitating another members name.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By bhieb on 10/21/2008 2:27:27 PM , Rating: 2
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so Fit should feel proud that he has become a beacon of conservative logic so fierce the libs would seek to flatter him.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By FITCamaro on 10/21/2008 2:32:55 PM , Rating: 2
:)

I'm hardly the biggest conservative on here though.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Spuke on 10/22/2008 1:43:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Imitation is the highest form of flattery
When you can't create, imitate.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By bhieb on 10/21/2008 12:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong but the CO2 foot print of the cement plant is shifted more than straight up reduced. The algae use it to make diesel which at some point is burned releasing CO2, hence no reduction per se.

Except that no conventional diesel is burn instead so I guess it does reduce it overall, just not as direct as the article points out.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Doormat on 10/21/2008 12:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
Its a closed cycle from the algae's point of view - it takes in CO2 from the environment, and then its put back in the environment when its burned.

From the cement plant's POV, its just postponing the placement of CO2 into the atmosphere - it goes through a conversion process that allows it to be used as fuel.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Schrag4 on 10/21/2008 4:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
I think the argument would go, however, that for every gallon of fuel created by this algae, that's one less gallon of fuel created by oil sucked up from underground, so you could argue that it's reducing the amount of sequestered carbon that we're bringing out of the ground and releasing. So, yeah, it IS postponing the release of the cement plant's carbon, but that cement plant's carbon is then eventually used to power vehicles instead of oil-originated fuel.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By bobny1 on 10/22/2008 8:21:17 AM , Rating: 2
True. But the difference is that combined with hybrid technology it cuts or prolongs even further the amount of CO2 that returns to the atmosphere. Allowing planet Earth to do its natural refine process.


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By Spuke on 10/22/2008 1:56:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Allowing planet Earth to do its natural refine process.
So "planet Earth" wouldn't do the "natural refine process" without this delay?


RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By BurnItDwn on 10/21/2008 1:36:38 PM , Rating: 1
They have more options than to just set up at factories and hope the factories don't go out of business.
They have a LOT of possible options here ...
I see one of these as being likely, but again, they have a lot of options ...

They could manufacture the plants in their own factory, then ship them to various factories around the world and install and set them up.

They could license their tech out and various companies can assemble/fab locally ...

They could mfg it, then have contractors handle installing.


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