Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

GreenFuel Tech starts algue project

GreenFuel Technologies is expected to announce a first paying customer for its algae fuel business. Shortly a greenhouse project in Spain will be started.

 The Cambridge, Mass.-based company detailed a multi-year deal worth $92 million to build greenhouses that grow algae, which can be harvested for vegetable oil to make biodiesel or to make animal feed.

The project developer is Spain's Aurantia, which specializes in renewable energy. In the greenhouses, the algae will be fed sunlight and carbon dioxide from a nearby cement plant in Jerez, Spain.

GreenFuel executives have said they are pursuing other deals with large polluters, such as utilities and heavy industry, with other project developers in different parts of the world.

GreenFuel Technologies originally tested its algae-growing process in plastic bags with an Arizona utility. That project ran into trouble when the cost of harvesting the algae biomass was too high.

Its greenhouse design grows algae without tubes and uses an automated harvesting system, according to CEO Simon Upfill-Brown. The water in which the algae grow is recycled.

GreenFuel and Aurantia now have a 100 square-meter prototype operating. It's next stage, slated for completion in about a year, is a 1000-meter installation.

It hopes that by 2011, it will have a full-scale operation, which will take up 100 hectares.

A 100-hectare algae farm would consume about 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year--about 10% of its the cement factory's annual emissions--and grow about 25,000 tonnes of algae biomass.

In the past year, there have several companies formed to make algae for oils for fuels or pharmaceuticals. But thus far, there aren't any companies producing algae for fuel at commercial scale.

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