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