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Construction of five-acre algae farm begins at Iowa ethanol plant

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Construction of five-acre algae farm begins at ethanol plant


BioProcess Algae LLC and Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. announced Feb. 1 that they have begun constructing a five acre algae production facility in southwest Iowa at the site of Green Plains’ 65 MMgy ethanol plant near Shenandoah. Construction of the algae facility is expected to progress quickly and the facility is slated to begin operating in the third quarter of this year.


The five acre facility is the next step in a long-term algae production project being carried out by BioProcess Algae, a joint venture between Green Plains, water filtration product manufacturer Clarcor Inc., clean-tech research and development company BioHoldings Ltd., and global renewable energy investment group NTR plc. Since first installing its trademarked Grower Harvester bioreactors at the Shenandoah plant in 2009, the project has continually met or exceeded its expectations, with the latest expansion being no exception. The company announced last fall that it planned to construct the five-acre farm in the spring and is now moving ahead as scheduled. But the successful scaling-up process has brought with it unexpected challenges on the demand side.


Last year, Green Plains CEO Todd Becker said that the project was progressing faster than market opportunities were being developed for algae. As a result, the company began participating in market development activities, supplying algae for feed trials and tests for other markets, such as pharmaceutical applications. That work continues to be conducted, with BioProcess Algae supplying product grown at a smaller scale at the Shenandoah plant.


Last fall, the company began operating commercial-scale horizontal bioreactors outdoors on less than an acre of property at the plant. Those bioreactors have run continuously throughout the winter, but they do not produce a large enough quantity to sell into the marketplace. That situation will soon change. The five acre site, which will include vertical and horizontal bioreactors as well as a plant to de-water and process the algae into a dried product, will be able to produce 200 tons of algae biomass per year—enough production for BioProcess Algae to start selling its product. “We’re moving out of the research phase and into the phase where this algae will make it into people’s finished products,” Becker said.




Inputs required to produce algae in the Grower Harvesters include wastewater, heat and CO2 from an industrial facility such as an ethanol plant, and, of course, sunlight. According to Becker, the Shenandoah plant can easily meet the needs of the five acre farm. An ethanol plant with a 65 MMgy production capacity generally produces about 175,000 tons of CO2 annually, he said. The production process being used by BioProcess Algae has a 2:1 CO2-to-algae conversion rate, so the five acre site will only require 400 tons of CO2 on an annual basis to operate. Scaling up the process even further, a 400 acre site, which is BioProcess Algae’s next planned expansion, would use 20 percent of the CO2 produced at a 65 MMgy ethanol plant and would produce 16,000 tons of algae annually.


There is no date set yet for the construction of the 400-acre algae farm, but Becker said the collaborators anticipate a rapid expansion if the five acre project proves successful. “This is a precursor to a much bigger expansion,” he said. “It will allow us to start to develop construction and cost estimates for the larger project. This will tell us a lot about the next expansion project that we do.” The cost of the five-acre project is not being released, but Becker said all of the collaborators have provided funding through 2012 and the project has “very good, solid financial footing.” Eventually, the company plans to expand its algae-growing capabilities to all of Green Plains’ nine ethanol plants and would likely also make its technology available to other ethanol plants and industrial facilities with significant CO2 streams, such as power plants and petroleum refineries.



They don't mention this, but I believe that the algae is being used to not only cut back on CO2 emissions, but also to primarily produce algae oil, for bio-diesel production, and the "algae cake" (to use a soybean crushing oil extraction term) will be used as a high value feed...


Make sure to remind all those ethanol-haters about THIS... I doubt that they'll put that into their 1970s' Pimental formula!  Add to this the corn oil extraction from the wet distiller grains (also used for bio-diesel) which also means that the drying of the distillers grains takes less fuel... all means that there are "way more BTUs" being extracted from the corn, and "way less BTUs" are being used to extract this energy...  PLUS you can add the increased feed value that results...


PutTHAT in your ethanol-hating pipe and smoke it ethanolphobes! ;)

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"“We’re moving out of the research phase and into the phase where this algae will make it into people’s finished products,” Becker said."


Very good!  That is what I wanted to hear.




Exactly..  R& D can only go on so far..time to start production

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