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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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RE: Symbiotic relationship?
By isorfir on 10/21/2008 11:48:59 AM , Rating: 2
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.
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.

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