INSIDE: POST-EXTRACTION ALGAE RESIDUE AS SUPPLEMENTAL CATTLE FEED
Making Progress Growth, Harvesting and Extraction Advancements Pull Industry Closer to Commercial Deployment Page 12
Public Support for Private Advancement Page 16
And An Algae Startupâ€™s Road to Commercialization Page 20
SPRING issue 2012 VOL. 02 ISSUE 01
2012 Algae Biomass Summit
2012 International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show
Algal Biomass Organization
BBI International Consulting
Biorefining Magazine Crown Iron Works Company
GEA Westfalia Separator
Percival Scientific, Inc.
Advancements in growth, harvesting and extraction By Bryan Sims
The Road to Commercialization Algae.Tec summarizes its commercial progress By AMY RICHARDSON FEDERAL
Public Support for Private Advancement Profiling U.S. Navy, U.S. DOE and USDA algae backing By Erin Voegele
INSIDE: POST-EXTRACTION ALGAE RESIDUE AS SUPPLEMENTAL CATTLE FEED
Making Progress Growth, Harvesting and Extraction Advancements Pull Industry Closer to Commercial Deployment Page 12
Public Support for Private Advancement Page 16
AND An Algae Startup’s Road to Commercialization Page 20
ON THE COVER:
Evodos’ centrifuges use spiral plate technology and are amenable for either photobioreactors or open pond configurations. Algae is harvested as paste containing only live algae and less than 2 percent extracellular water.
The Gamut By Ron Kotrba
Cattle: A Potential Market for Post-Extraction Algal Residue By M. L. Drewery and T. A. Wickersham
The Refining of Algal Oils into Fungible Transportation Fuels By F. Stephen Lupton
Good Planning Helps Satisfy Regulatory Hurdles By Lindsey Hemly and Emily Chad
Leveling the Playing Field for Algae By Mary Rosenthal
11 Business Briefs
People, Partnerships & Deals
SPRING 2012 | 3
EDITORIAL EDITOR Ron Kotrba email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITORS Erin Voegele firstname.lastname@example.org Bryan Sims email@example.com COPY EDITOR Jan Tellmann firstname.lastname@example.org
ART ART DIRECTOR Jaci Satterlund email@example.com graphic designer Lindsey Noble firstname.lastname@example.org
Ron Kotrba, Editor
CHAIRMAN Mike Bryan email@example.com
With its two columns in this issue of Algae Technology & Business, the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts covers the gamut in commercial product development from algae. Authors M. L. Drewery and T. A. Wickersham from Texas A&M give us, “Cattle: A Potential Market for Post-Extraction Algal Residue,” an article that delves into the authors’ ongoing research regarding the nutritive value of post-extraction algal residue (PEAR), and its palatability and effect on digestion and absorption of dietary nutrients in cattle. Read the entire article on page 6. At the other end of the spectrum, F. Stephen Lupton, a senior research associate with Honeywell’s UOP, discusses his company’s work in his article, “The Refining of Algal Oils into Fungible Transportation Fuels,” mainly renewable diesel and biojet. Lupton writes about the hydrotreatment process and coproduction of naptha, light fuel gas, jet fuel and renewable diesel. Drewery and Wickersham mention in their column that the U.S. DOE estimates 4.3 million tons of PEAR is produced for every billion gallons of fuel, or approximately 3.33 million tons, from algae. It is a wise move to generate data and knowledge of algae residue before high-volume fuel commercialization floods the market with product no one knows what to do with.
CEO Joe Bryan firstname.lastname@example.org VICE PRESIDENT Tom Bryan email@example.com
SALES VICE PRESIDENT, SALES & MARKETING Matthew Spoor firstname.lastname@example.org EXECUTIVE ACCOUNT MANAGER Howard Brockhouse email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Jeremy Hanson firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT MANAGERS Marty Steen email@example.com Bob Brown firstname.lastname@example.org Andrea Anderson email@example.com Dave Austin firstname.lastname@example.org CIRCULATION MANAGER Jessica Beaudry email@example.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Marla DeFoe firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Marketing Manager John Nelson email@example.com
for more news, visit BIOREFININGMAGAZINE.COM/BLOG/READ/ALGALSPHERE
Erin Voegele writes “Public Support for Private Advancement” on page 16, an article that profiles the significance of help from the Navy, U.S. DOE and the USDA to propel commercial development.
Bryan Sims authors “Commercial-Scale Progress” on page 12, in which he talks with technology and equipment providers to gauge how far growth, harvesting and extraction technologies have come.
Customer Service Please call (866) 746-8385 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscriptions to Algae Technology & Business are free of charge - distributed twice a year - to Biorefining Magazine and Biodiesel Magazine subscribers. To subscribe, visit www. biorefiningmagazine.com or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to: Biorefining Magazine Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You can also fax a subscription form to (701) 746-5367. Back Issues, Reprints and Permissions Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at (866) 746-8385 or service@bbiinternational. com. Advertising Algae Technology & Business provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about Algae Technology & Business advertising opportunities, please contact us at (866) 746-8385 or email@example.com. Letters to the Editor We welcome letters to the editor. Send Algae Technology & Business Letters to the Editor, 308 2nd Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to rkotrba@ bbiinternational.com. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/ or space. COPYRIGHT © 2012 by BBI International
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Cattle: A Potential Market for Post-Extraction Algal Residue By M. L. Drewery and T. A. Wickersham
igh lipid content, ability to thrive on otherwise non-arable land, and high productivity per unit of land mass make algal biomass an attractive second-generation biofuel. Currently, algae contain less than 50 percent lipid, suggesting the coproduct, post-extraction algal residue (PEAR), will be produced in excess of the biofuel. Consequently, capturing value from this coproduct stream impacts the economic feasibility and environmental sustainability of biofuel production from algal biomass. Approximately one-third of the corn biomass used in ethanol production exits the system as distillers grains, a coproduct currently trading for $225 dollars per ton (dried) or 77 cents per gallon of ethanol produced. Distillers grains have largely been marketed to and utilized by ruminant systems (i.e., beef and dairy cattle) because the ruminant digestive tract is designed to be forgiving and tolerant of the nutritive variance inherent in coproducts. Dependence on a vast microbial metapopulation in the foregut allows ruminants to convert coproducts and other low-quality sources of nutrients into palatable, high-quality meat and dairy products. The capacity of ruminants to utilize coproducts coupled with significant cattle populations (10.1 million head of feedlot cattle, 30.9 million beef cows, and 9.2 million head of dairy cattle) suggests the ability to utilize more than 12 million tons of PEAR per year. The U.S. DOE estimates 4.3 million tons of PEAR is $OJDH,QGXVWU\8SGDWH
produced per billion gallons of fuel; therefore, cattle are a potential market for PEAR from 3 billion gallons of algal biofuel. Collection of data to support the development of a feed market for PEAR and the subsequent translation of that data into realistic estimates of market value and use of PEAR have been major components of our research. Initial and ongoing research focuses on describing the nutritive value of unique sources of PEAR in terms and units familiar to agricultural industries. The primary drivers of PEAR value and utilization are protein and residual lipid contents with value discounts occurring for high ash content, mineral imbalances, and mineral concentrations that limit PEAR incorporation into the diets. Processes favoring retention of omega-3 fatty acids in PEAR or as a separate coproduct will add significant value and increase the number of available markets. Upstream processes (methods of biomass cultivation, harvesting, drying, and extracting) and algae species are the major drivers of nutritive value and protocols should be developed to optimize lipid quantity and quality with consideration to how these impact PEAR nutritive value. Secondly, we have evaluated the palatability of protein supplements containing divergent levels of PEAR from a single source. Our results demonstrated that supplements containing as much as 60 percent PEAR in combination with dried distillers grains or cottonseed meal were readily consumed; however, when a 100 percent PEAR was fed, palatability was reduced. Blending with other feed ingredients clearly improves palatability;
however, upstream processes and species of algae are likely significant drivers of palatability that need to be evaluated as additional sources of PEAR become available in sufficient quantities for this type of research. Our final area of ongoing research is determining the impact of PEAR on digestion and absorption of dietary nutrients in cattle. Ultimately, this data will be coupled with palatability data to create optimal vehicles for delivering PEAR in protein supplements for cattle. One challenge/limitation with our feeding research is the limitation to one source of PEAR. In contrast to ethanol production, which was born from a mature crop (corn) and established processes, algal biofuel production is an emerging industry and is, at this stage, largely characterized by discovery. As algal biofuel production matures into a viable industry, we anticipate significant research on the utilization of PEAR in cattle feed. Continued PEAR research in the developmental stage of algal biofuel is required to steer the industry toward production streams that are optimized for both biofuel production and coproduct value and utilization. Authors: M. L. Drewery, T. A. Wickersham Undergraduate Student, Animal Scientist; Texas A&M firstname.lastname@example.org
The Refining of Algal Oils into Fungible Transportation Fuels By F. Stephen Lupton
s part of the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortia, Honeywellâ€™s UOP has been tasked with converting algal oils produced by consortia partners into fungible transportation fuels such as trademarked Green Jet Fuel using the UOP Renewable Jet Fuel process and Green Diesel using the trademarked UOP/ENI Ecofining process. These processes are based upon UOPâ€™s more than 90 years of experience and expertise in the petrochemical refining industry and hydrotreating technology. Hydrotreatment utilizes hydrogen at elevated temperatures and pressures, in the presence of a suitable catalyst, to remove hetero-atoms such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and halides such as chlorine, from organic molecules to produce a purely hydrocarbon fuel. UOP received a number of algal-derived oils from NAABB partners for evaluation as feedstocks for both the Ecofining and Renewable Jet Fuel processes to produce drop-in hydrocarbon fuels. The analysis of these oils indicated that the level of contaminants such as metals, phosphorous, nitrogen, chlorine and sulfur varied widely depending upon both methods of cultivation and oil Properties of Algal Jet Fuels
extraction. Some oils were obvious candidates for conversion to hydrocarbon fuels whereas other algal oils presented challenges for processing without additional pretreatment. Pretreatment of the algal oils may include processes such as degumming as is commonly used in the pretreatment of vegetable oils. Pretreatment of algal oils not only serves to remove catalyst poisons, it also provides a mechanism by which valuable nutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and divalent cations such as calcium and magnesium can be recycled back to the cultivation ponds from the extracted oils, especially if pretreatment is done near the source of cultivation. UOP successfully converted three algal oils supplied by NAABB members to hydrocarbon fuels. One of the oils was a fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) oil produced by an NAABB member using a proprietary process to convert whole algal biomass to FAME oil and byproducts. The other two oils were crude triacylglyceride (TAG) oils extracted from algae grown in outdoor ponds. All the algal oils required pretreatment to remove metals and phosphorous before conversion to fuels. A two-step process was used for conversion to produce jet and diesel fuels with the required freeze and cold flow properties. The first step involved removal of oxygen, along with nitrogen and sulfur. This step produced straight-chain normal (n-) alkanes from the fatty acid component of the algal oil. The second step involved the cracking and isomerization of these straight-chain alkanes into a mixture of highly branched (iso-) alkanes. Some of the larger molecular weight paraffins were also cracked into smaller
Jet Fuel from Algal FAME
Jet Fuel from Algal TAG #1
Jet Fuel from Algal TAG #2 754.2
730 - 770
Freeze point (oC) max
Flash Point (oC) min
Distillation 10% Recovered Temp (T10) oC max
50% Recovered Temp (T50) oC
90% Recovered Temp (T90) oC
Final Boiling Point (oC) max
molecular weight paraffins, which increased the amount of material that was in the jet fuel boiling range. This flexibility allows the yield of jet and diesel product to be tuned towards either fuel, depending upon the current market value of jet fuel versus diesel fuel. The treated product was then fractionated by distillation into naphtha, synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) jet fuel and diesel fractions. Along with naphtha, some light fuel gas is also produced. Both of these products have value as fuels, and the naphtha fraction can be a feedstock for a reforming unit for gasoline or polymer-grade olefins. The SPK fraction from all three algal oils met the recently published ASTM D7566 specifications for bio-SPK jet fuel component for density, freeze point, flash point and distillation profile. The diesel product made from these algal oils also met the specifications for both the U.S. Navy F-76 Marine Distillate fuel and the ASTM D 975 No. 2-Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel. Outside of the NAABB project, UOP has converted considerable quantities of heterotrophically produced algal oils to jet and naval distillate fuels. More than 100,000 gallons of finished hydrocarbon fuels have been produced from oils extracted from heterotrophically grown algae. These fuels are currently being evaluated by the U.S. Navy in a number of test demonstrations by naval aircraft and surface ships. UOP is committed to working closely with NAABB partners, as well as other algal oil feedstock producers, to hasten the commercialization of renewable algal jet and renewable algal diesel fuels for both civilian and military use. Author: F. Stephen Lupton Senior Research Associate, Renewable Energy & Chemicals UOP LLC, A Honeywell Company
SPRING 2012 | 7
Good Planning Helps Satisfy Regulatory Hurdles By Lindsey Hemly and Emily Chad
pportunities for innovation in algal fuel development and production are significant and attracting even presidential attention. With innovation, however, often comes uncertainty, and in the case of algae product development, regulatory uncertainty has tagged along for the ride. In the face of such uncertainty, algae developers should plan on the front end to satisfy the most obvious regulatory hurdles. Several regulatory schemes likely apply to algal development and production activities. These include: • The U.S. EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act. • The USDA’s Plant Protection Act. • The National Environmental Policy Act. • State and local planning and permitting requirements.
The Toxic Substances Control Act requires that a manufacturer or importer notify the EPA 90 days before manufacturing or shipping certain new chemical substances, including microorganisms such as microalgae that are a combination of genetic material from organisms of different species. Notification is not required when the microalgae are naturally occurring or when the genetic material from microalgae of the same genus is combined. Sufficient time should be built into development and financing schedules to accommodate this notice requirement if genetically modified algae strains are involved. Microalgae research and development activities may also be subject to National Institute of Health Guidelines if federal funds are involved. If testing will involve the release of microalgae into the environment, a TSCA Experimental Release Application could be $OJDH,QGXVWU\8SGDWH
required. Research conducted in a “contained structure” is generally exempt from reporting requirements. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulates the interstate movement of bioengineered plants and microorganisms deemed “plant pests” pursuant to the Plant Protection Act. Plant pests are organisms which can directly or indirectly injure or cause disease or damage to any plants or plant products, and include all bioengineered organisms without a known plant pest classification. Plant pests require a permit for import, interstate movement, or environmental release. Environmental planning and permitting, such as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, industrial wastewater discharge authorization, and waste disposal regulations may also come into play. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of “federal actions.” Federal actions include projects and programs financed, assisted, conducted, regulated, or approved by federal agencies. If an algae project will use federal funds or will require a federal approval, a NEPA environmental assessment may be required prior to project commencement. The NEPA process can take several months to complete and can add costs to a project, so project developers should be sure to factor in the potential for added time and costs during the planning process. Various state and local laws could apply to algae product development, including state permitting and licensing requirements, which may be complicated by the fact that production of algae products is a hybrid of aquaculture and manufacturing. In addition, states and localities have a patchwork of nonnative species regulations. Although these have focused primarily on algae released by boats and aquaculture, algae fuel developers should plan to put in place containment systems to avoid releasing nonnative algae into the environment.
Project developers should contact state regulatory agencies such as aquaculture and agriculture agencies, departments of natural resources, fish and wildlife departments, water quality and energy regulatory commissions, and economic development agencies, to bring to light any potential issues. These groups may also have access to funding sources such as EPA grants or economic development incentives, making them potentially useful allies as well as regulatory obstacles. Additionally, zoning requirements can make or break development projects, and project developers should carefully consider land use planning processes and the discretionary authority of local governmental entities prior to selecting a facility location and beginning development. The applicability of these and other federal, state and local laws and regulations to algae-for-fuel projects depends on the type of algae involved, funding sources (e.g., federal, state or private), whether project activities are taking place indoor or outdoors, and the specific location of the project. As a result, it is crucial to communicate early and often with governmental authorities at all levels to keep projects on schedule and avoid fines or litigation down the road. Authors: Lindsey Hemly, Emily Chad Attorneys, Fredrikson & Byron email@example.com (612) 492-7454
Learn, Connect and Grow at the Worldâ€™s Leading Algal Industry Conference
September 24-27, 2012
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International Biomass Conference & Expo
April 16-19, 2012
Colorado Convention Center | Denver, Colorado A New Era in Energy: The Future is Growing Organized by BBI International and coproduced by Biomass Power & Thermal and Biorefining Magazine, the International Biomass Conference & Expo program will include 30-plus panels and more than 100 speakers, including 90 technical presentations on topics ranging from anaerobic digestion and gasification to pyrolysis and combined heat and power. This dynamic event unites industry professionals from all sectors of the worldâ€™s interconnected biomass utilization industriesâ€”biobased power, thermal energy, fuels and chemicals.
Advancing Technologies and Markets Derived from Algae Organized by the Algal Biomass Organization and coproduced by BBI International, this event brings current and future producers of biobased products and energy together with algae crop growers, municipal leaders, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, project developers, investors and policy makers. Register today for the worldâ€™s premier educational and networking junction for all algae industries. The Algae Biomass Summit is where future and existing producers of algae products go to network with other industry suppliers and technology pro-
viders. Itâ€™s where project developers converse with utility executives; where researchers and technology developers rub elbows with venture capitalists; and where Fortune 500 executives and influential policy makers sit side-by-side with American farmers and foresters. The Algae Biomass Summit is the largest, fastestgrowing algae event of its kind. In 2012, this event is expected to draw nearly 900 attendees and exceed the previous yearâ€™s attendance by almost 20 percent. This growth is powered by the current strength of the industry and the positive outlook for future algae producers.
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SPRING 2012 | 9
Leveling the Playing Field for Algae By Mary Rosenthal
n a speech in Florida in late February, President Obama announced support and funding for algae-related research and development, and noted the potential for algae-based biofuels to help America increase its supply of domestic fuel and energy. While his pronouncement was met with some campaign-year pushback, the timing could not have been better. The national attention on algae put the topic top-of-mind just as we had more than two dozen members descending on the Capitol for our annual legislative flyin in Washington, D.C. This increased momentum gave us a great entry point for discussions that the Algal Biomass Organization and its members had with nearly 50 members of Congress, staffers and agency representatives in one-to-one meetings, a legislative hearing and an industry reception. In addition to sharing the benefits of algae for our national security, economic development and energy independence, we also released the results of the ABO’s 2012 industry survey, which shed some important light on where the industry stands.
What We Heard
So what did we hear? We found a wide range of awareness about algae on Capitol Hill but also heard a lot of questions. Many people were eager to discuss detailed precommercial and commercial developments, while others were interested in more greatly understanding the environmental and economic sustainability $OJDH,QGXVWU\8SGDWH of this developing agricultural crop. The wide range of questions and interest
provided us one more gauge regarding the need for education with advanced biofuels and biobased materials, and especially algae.
What We Said
We focused on the key 2012 legislative priorities for the algae industry. Perhaps most timely is the proposed amendment (No. 1723) to the “MAP 21” Transportation Bill, introduced by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla. The amendment would rename the cellulosic credit as the second-generation biofuel credit, making both cellulosic and algae-based fuels eligible, and also making relevant production facilities eligible for bonus depreciation benefits. This amendment is similar to legislation introduced last year in the House (the Algae Fuel Parity Act H.R.1149) and in the Senate (the Algae-Based Renewable Fuel Promotion Act of 2011 S.748). As I write this, two similar amendments to the highway bill have also been introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. We are fortunate that both of these energy tax amendments include the algae tax parity language supported by ABO. Algae producers and industry players should also voice support for the Energy Title in the 2012 Farm Bill as well as Fuel for Enhancing National Security Act HR 1847 in the House and S.1079 in the Senate. I bring this up as a lead-in to my last point—the results of our industry survey. We received more than 380 responses from all parts of the algae industry value chain, and a few things were made abundantly
clear. On policy matters like the ones listed above, consensus was clear: 96 percent of respondents said leveling the playing field for algae would accelerate production. And more than 80 percent said that stable and supportive federal policy would accelerate the industry’s growth, increase production and drive job growth. The survey also told us that 65 percent of respondents are increasing production at new and/or existing facilities this year. Nearly 70 percent believe it is moderately to extremely likely that algae biofuels will be commercially available and competitive with fossil fuels by 2020, with nearly 50 percent projecting algae-based fuels at less than $3 per gallon by then. So let’s keep our foot down on the gas pedal and share our successes and our promise with local, state and federal policymakers to ensure that algae-based fuels can begin playing a significant role in our domestic fuel supply. Author: Mary Rosenthal Executive Director, Algal Biomass Organization (763) 458-0068 firstname.lastname@example.org
business briefs People, Partnerships & Deals
Melbourne, Fla.-based PetroAlgae Inc. has changed its name to Parabel Inc. The company said the new name better reflects its strategic changes and commercial milestones. Information issued by Parabel noted that its proprietary technology addresses global demand for new sources of feed, food and fuel. According to the company, its open-pond bioreactor technology enables customer licensees to grow, harvest and process locally available, aquatic microcrops. Parabel’s technology is used to cultivate microcrops from the Lemnaceae family, including duckweed. The company filed an IPO registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission August 2010, and amended that registration December 2011. Due to the pending IPO, Parabel is not currently able to offer additional comments on the name change. Parabel operates a demonstration-scale algae production facility in Fellsmere, Fla.
Blue Marble Biomaterials formed a partnership with University of Montana to leverage ongoing research by Carrine Blank, a research assistant professor at UM’s geosciences department, and Nancy Hinman, a geosciences professor. They discovered a unique class of algal organisms that have exceptional metabolic pathways that can use alternative metabolic resources to produce biomass before photosynthesis occurs. A paper is expected to be published by Blank and Hinman based on the research between UM and Blue Marble. Blue Marble has done
extensive work with algal biomass both in remediation and production. Finding ways to incorporate novel algal technologies into its waste recycling system was a key driver behind the decision to partner with UM.
Sapphire Energy Inc. has entered into a licensing agreement with Earthrise Nutritionals LLC, a company that has produced spirulina and spirulina-based products for more than 25 years. Spirulina, also known as blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, can be cultivated in a similar fashion to green algae to produce lipids. Sapphire Energy will integrate Earthrise Nutritionals’ spirulina strain into its growing inventory of cyanobacteria and algae strains for algae-to-energy production. As a result of the agreement, Sapphire Energy said it has significantly improved its operational efficiency by expanding the range of strain choices available for producing its biobased crude, which can be refined into diesel, jet and gasoline fuels. California-based algae technology developer OriginOil Inc. has signed a joint commercial agreement with Aquaviridis Inc. to help develop the multiphase algae production rollout of its Mexicali, Mexico, pilot site. It will serve as the model for future algae sites throughout the North American Free Trade Agreement region, with a focus on desert areas of the American Southwest and Mexico. OriginOil will provide its expertise to help develop growth and harvesting solutions and implement its unique algae growth, harvesting and oil extraction technologies. The facility will also serve as a test bed for OriginOil’s ongoing research and development innovations. Backed by private sector funding, Aquaviridis (Latin for “green water”) has developed a pilot-scale facility south of Mexicali in Ejido Nuevo Leon, Baja California Norte, Mexico,
and plans to immediately scale up from research and development to 10 acres of pilot algae production by midyear. Commercialscale production capacity is expected by the second quarter of 2013. The intent of the project is to develop economical algal crops to exploit opportunities in algal-based human dietary ingredients, while demonstrating scalability of low-cost methods for producing algae as fish meal protein replacements and other high-value animal feed applications. Solazyme Inc. announced the hiring of Mark Warner as senior vice president of engineering. Warner joins Solazyme from Harris Group where he was senior vice president of process industries. In his new role with Solazyme, Warner is responsible for the design and construction of Solazyme’s renewable oil and bioproducts production facilities worldwide. Before Harris Group, Warner was responsible for the design and construction of one of the largest biodiesel production facilities in New Job Mark Warner has left the U.S., Imperium Harris Group and Renewables’ Grays joined Solazyme its new senior Harbor facility, as vice as vice president of president of engineer- engineering. ing for Imperium. He also led project development of several advanced biofuel production facilities in the U.S., Argentina, Europe and Asia, according to Solazyme. A professional engineer, Warner has 26 years of experience in business, technical, and management experience in the building and development of renewable energy projects and chemical plant operations. Share your industry briefs To be included in Business Briefs, send information (including photos and logos if available) to: Industry Briefs, Algae Technology & Business, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. You may also fax information to (701) 746-8385, or e-mail it to rkotrba@ bbiinternational.com. Please include your name and telephone number in all correspondence. SPRING 2012 | 11
Harvester of Tomorrow Key design parameters of Evodosâ€™ algae harvesting machines are driven by customer requirements, and the company says there are no limits to what $OJDH,QGXVWU\8SGDWH Evodos can design to accommodate its customersâ€™ needs. Photo: SICCO VAN GRIEKEN
Scaling up algae growth, harvesting and extraction technologies, and the companies facilitating commercial deployment By BRYAN SIMS
Significant advancements and milestones were made this past year by several algae technology developers. Focused particularly on growth, harvesting and extraction (GHE) links within the supply chain, they are on the verge of supplying their methods and technologies to customers for commercial deployment. Among them is Golden, Colo.-based BioVantage Resources Inc.
CEO Sue Kunz says her company’s approach to facilitating commercial-scale deployment for its customers doesn’t hinge on the traditional thought of metrology, or going from the clichéd “beakers to barrels.” “We don’t measure productivity on grams per liters per day,” Kunz tells Algae Technology & Business. “We want to measure it in grams per liter per year because that’s the right measure when taking a commercialization approach.” Founded in 2008, BioVantage Resources has a diverse staff with expertise ranging from mechanical engineering to optics. “We have a manufacturing and Six Sigma background,” Kunz says, “so we think along the lines of repeatable, reliable, cost-effective processes. That’s our forte.” BioVantage Resources offers three main product lines designed to meet desired specifications by the client. The first, its bubble column reactors (BCR), features capacities designed and tested to perform well in a graduated, sequential scale-up from Erlenmeyer flask to 2-gallon BCR to 9.5-gallon BCR, and up to larger capacity inoculation systems for rapid, high-quality biomass aggregation. The company’s BCR offerings fold into its second product line, tank-based reactors for larger volumes of algae growth. The system’s modular design comprises up to 20-, 50- or 150-gallon growing tanks, one or more automated medium preparation systems and a system control center. Its third line includes custom aboveground or inground raceway pond designs with capacities of 500-plus gallons. The company also offers fully automated growth media preparation systems and paddlewheel components for open pond configurations. SPRING 2012 | 13
New York-based algae cultivation technology developer Culture Fuels Inc. is harnessing the inherent benefits of both open pond and photobioreactor configurations through a low-cost, highly productive hybrid growth technology platform trademarked FloatAlgae, capable of cultivating algae strains irrespective of the strain or the final product market. Founded in 2010, Culture Fuels has been operating an outdoor pilot facility at the University of South Florida-Polytechnic in Lakeland testing selected strains of natural algae growth in three separate 100-liter FloatAlgae systems. Culture Fuels CEO Lawrence Walmsley describes the FloatAlgae system as a closed
it seeks institutional funding to complement matching state funds already obtained, for deployment of a demo facility near a one-acre landfill site owned by a Florida municipality. “The site is available now,” Walmsley says, adding that it has access to water, leachate runoff from the nearby landfill to help cultivate the algae, and carbon dioxide byproduct from the municipality’s methane-powered turbines. “It’s not just any location, but it’s a location that I believe is a great example of how this industry should develop.”
PHOTO: OPENALGAE LLC
Whether it’s customized paddlewheels or state-of-the-art centrifuges, developers and vendors say they’re experiencing growth in sales to clients interested in applying the equipment for commercial-scale applications. Robert Vitale, president of Franklin, N.C.-based Waterwheel Factory, a paddlewheel designer and supplier, is noticing several domestic and international algae developers moving from demonstration to comPortable Innovation With UT’s Center for Electromechanics, OpenAlgae has mercial deployment. The optimized its novel lysing process to separate lipids from algae cells on a dualaxle modular trailer, which has processed roughly 30,000 gallons of algae water. company initially began building custom mechanbioreactor that floats on an open pond with ical waterwheel devices 14 years ago. In 2008, the algae housed inside the reactor featuring it began supplying sturdy, energy-efficient an integrated aeration system allowing carbon paddlewheels for open algae ponds. Clients dioxide to enter. “Because it’s floating in this include General Atomics, Sapphire Energy, heat sink, it holds its temperature so it doesn’t ExxonMobil, AlgaeVenture, plus universities get too hot,” Walmsley explains, adding that such as Texas A&M Agrilife Research Center a one-degree difference in outside and inner and AlgaeBioTech in Netherlands. reactor water temperature can affect growth Vitale says most projects he deals with in certain algae species that are sensitive to are up to 1,500 acres in scale and a number temperature. “With the same algae strain, we of them are “ready to bite the bullet,” he adds. can produce higher productivity than other “We’re at the point now where we’re beginning systems if the water ends up getting too hot to jump into a serious mindset as to what it’s in other places.” going to take to go commercial.” In addition to its low-capital profile, Waterwheel Factory’s services go beyond Walmsley highlighted additional benefits of manufacturing and supplying paddlewheels. It the FloatAlgae technology: improved thermal also provides water biochemistry monitoring, control, higher biomass density due to low remote management and control, site equipdewatering costs, reduced propensity for con- ment components, installation management tamination, and scalability. Walmsley says the consulting and some invaluable pro bono ser$OJDH,QGXVWU\8SGDWH pilot facility at USFP will be used to showcase vices, Vitale says. “We’ve been known to act as its proprietary FloatAlgae reactor system as the client’s eyes.” 14 |
Netherlands-based algae harvesting technology developer Evodos recently announced Algae 2 Omega would be the first to purchase its new Type 250 centrifuge in development. Evodos CEO Marco Brocken says Algae 2 Omega will install the 250 centrifuge by end of year. It’s a larger version of Evodos’ Type 10 and Type 25 centrifuges designed for a flow of 40 cubic meters per hour and a solid discharge capacity of 500 liters per hour. The 250 uses the same spiral plate technology as all other Evodos centrifuges and is amenable for either PBR or open pond configurations. As all of Evodos’ harvesting machines, the algae are harvested as paste containing only live algae and less than 2 percent extracellular water, which helps extend shelf life. “We are talking with several companies that are at the forefront of taking the next step to commercialization,” Brocken says, adding that Evodos’ cheapest harvesting machine costs about $58,000. “You can always look at the price of the machine, but it’s the investment—or overall capital expense of the operation—that’s important.”
A foundation of partnerships, collaborations and alliances in industry is essential for algae commercialization. OpenAlgae LLC, a Houston-based algae developer formed in 2008 with help from the University of Texas Center for Electromechanics, has focused on optimizing and scaling three subareas within the GHE supply chain. After algae is harvested and water is recycled, OpenAlgae uses a novel lysing step to separate lipids from the algal cells. Vice President Peter Kipp says Open Algae’s approach is unique because it doesn’t require drying, hexane extraction or centrifugation steps. “We’re trying to take technologies that exist and are used at scale in other industries and apply them to algae,” Kipp says, “rather than try to do something that’s totally unorthodox and new. We’re trying to base everything on science that we know is scalable and we know we have a good idea of what the cost is.” Another technique that differentiates OpenAlgae as an end-to-end solution, Kipp says, is its oil recovery technique, the final step, where it takes the complex mixture of oily water and broken algal cells (slurry) and pulls away the oil using a membrane separation process, leaving behind a completely de-oiled wet biomass. “That allows us to think about
PHOTO: POND BIOFUELS INC.
algae like a true commodity product,” Kipp says, “where we’ve actually separated the oil from the biomass and both streams maintain full value. That, to us, is where the industry has to go. Algae has to become a commodity if it’s going to reach the scale that people want it to reach.” In addition to working with UT, Kipp says OpenAlgae collaborates with partners like Waterwheel Factory and various other technology developers, and the company is open to dialogue with more. “We’re really talking to a lot of the leaders and it’s exciting,” Kipp says. Like OpenAlgae, Toronto-based Pond Biofuels Inc. values the concept of partnerships for achieving its commercialscale objectives. In January, Pond Biofuels launched the piloting of a unique 16,000-liter (4,227-gallon) algae bioreactor production system using LED lighting at St. Mary’s Cement with support of the Ontario government. The company is preparing to scale up to a 100,000-liter demo facility, which should be operational by mid-year. A commercial plant is expected to be in operation at St. Mary’s by 2014. Steve Martin, CEO and co-founder of Pond Biofuels, says the company’s commercialization approach is driven by a “pull” model—meaning it pulls together and integrates known, proven technologies that have demonstrated performance at industrial scale—rather than a “push” model of innovation. “There’s a comfort level there in terms of developing the technology in that way,” Martin says. “We don’t propel our ideas out into the marketplace and expect to have acceptance. We go to the market and see what they’re interested in accepting now, and
Cultivating Integration Pond Biofuels utilizes growth and harvesting techniques in an integrated fashion at St. Mary’s Cement: bioreactors to cultivate algae using LED illumination units, harvesting tanks, and water recovery systems after algae is separated and stored, so the media can be recirculated into the system.
we provide those to them as the solution to our project.” As for BioVantage Resources, the company is deeply entrenched in partnerships with a number of private and public parties, including the Colorado School of Mines; Utah State University; Stewart Engineering, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based engineering firm that also tests alternative feedstocks; Evolutionary Genomics, a Lafayette, Colo.-based biotech company that has developed a proprietary adapted traits platform to identify specific genes that can be commercialized; and finally, Bio2 Solu-
tion, a Strasburg, Colo.-based algae solutions company that, like BioVantage, is working to develop and commercialize wastewater remediation technology, which uses algae. “There’s great stuff going on and we’re excited about what we’ve seen,” Kunz says. “No small company can focus on the whole value chain. You’ve got to pick what you’re going to win at because, if you bite off more than you can chew, you will fail.” Author: Bryan Sims Associate Editor, Algae Technology & Business (701) 738-4974 email@example.com
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Comparing Benefits Lt. Cmdr. Frank Kim, fuel officer for Naval Supply Systems Command, Fleet Logistics Center San Diego, compares flasks of traditional marine diesel and an algae-derived alternative.
PHOTO: U.S. NAVY
Public Support for Private Advancement Industry leaders say more can be done By Erin Voegele
The U.S. algae industry has made great strides toward technology improvement and commercialization, and some federal departments, most notably the Navy, have helped drive growth in this sector. The Navy is preparing to operate a Green Strike Group this year
that is fueled with a 50/50 mix of biofuel. The use of algae-based fuel has played a large role in its evaluations. Solazyme was recently credited with delivering more than 95,000 gallons of algae-derived fuel to the Navy. The U.S. DOE has also shown the sector support, including ongoing research and development under its national laboratory system. It was an important benchmark for the industry when the National Renewable Energy Laboratory revived its shelved aquatic species program. Also, a variety of cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) have been formed with private industry to help accelerate technology development. It is important that biofuels, including those from algae, are supported by several top government officials. In fact, the day after President Obama’s State of the Union address, he traveled to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., where he spoke about the defense department’s need to transition to cleaner, domestic fuels. Obama specifically called attention to the fact that the Navy made the single largest purchase of biofuel in government history late last year. There are several specific actions other federal agencies can take, however, to further support algae advancement. One desire raised by many in the industry is to see more involvement by the USDA. A crop insurance program, for example, could help derisk algae cultivation and attract the traditional agricultural community to the industry. The Navy has always been a force leading new energy technology development, and its role with algae-derived biofuels is no different. In addition to the obvious benefits of having one of the world’s largest fuel consumers pulling for your sector, important public relations benefits also stem from the Navy’s support of renewable fuels. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, in particular, has been an outspoken advocate. He has repeatedly—and patiently—reiterated the many reasons why the Navy should lead the charge to develop domestically produced biofuels, often pointing out the vulnerabilities and cost variability associated with sourcing petroleum fuels from the global marketplace. For example,
during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in February, Mabus was questioned about the relevancy of the “strong emphasis” the Navy has placed on its biofuels initiative. Mabus once again explained that purchasing oil products on the open market leaves the Navy open to unacceptable vulnerabilities associated with sufficient fuel supplies and price shocks that have increased Navy fuel expenditures by up to $1.1 billion per year. Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algal Biomass Organization, says she appreciates the support that the Navy has offered the sector. “The testing, use and procurement of algae-derived fuels by the Navy, for instance, has been a huge help in generating awareness of the quality of these fuels among the aviation community,” she said. “Continued support in the form of funding, legislation and procurement will only help accelerate commercialization of algae-based fuels. The Department of Defense is a perfect ‘test bed’ for new technologies and products. DOD’s support for algae-derived fuels would be an important seal of approval.” While the Navy has been primarily procuring algae-based fuel from Solazyme, which runs a fermentation production technology, many hope the Navy will expand its procurement to algae fuel from other companies employing different production technologies. “[The Navy] has gotten out ahead of the industry and sort of created a market for some of these fuels,” says Tim Zenk, Sapphire Energy Inc.’s vice president of corporate affairs. “Particularly, they have focused on algae generated from sugar. We hope the Navy recognizes that scalability really happens when you get beyond just fermentation and you liken algae production to large-scale agriculture.” The DOE has an extensive network of nearly two dozen national laboratories and technology centers in place. While these entities do extensive work in the realm of scientific research, many also benefit private industry through the development of CRADAs, research partnerships focused on developing commercially deployable processes or technologies. OriginOil Inc. recently established a CRADA with DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory to codevelop an integrated system for direct conversion of raw algae into a renewable crude oil for use by existing petroleum refineries. The technology, dubbed the Biocrude System, would integrate OriginOil’s harvesting system with a biomass processing techSPRING 2012 | 17
nology being developed under the CRADA. Paul Reep, OriginOil’s senior vice president of technology, says this is the second phase of an earlier effort in which INL helped OriginOil develop an understanding of energy balance modeling for its process technology. “INL has developed a sophisticated understanding of modeling and simulation technologies over the past several decades through its advanced nuclear energy programs, for commercial power and nuclear Navy program; a particular and recognized strength of the INL,” Reep says. “We have found INL to be responsive and pragmatic, and a perfect fit for a small company looking to get the exact technical expertise it needs for each specific project, without increased organic/internal staffing. The taxpayers pay for this expertise, and it’s industry’s opportunity to extract tremendous value from this national resource.” While the ability to leverage the national laboratory system is obviously beneficial to the algae sector, industry leaders would like to see more DOE activity and support. Reep,
for example, notes that a DOE-led Manhattan Project kind of effort would represent a big opportunity for the algae industry. Team and leadership are the watchwords that together form the culture needed to foster advancements that realized nuclear energy. “The DOE labs have the team—is there a leader up to the task?” he asks. Rosenthal says the ABO would like to see the DOE continue to support algae R&D but shift focus away from lab-scale work and concentrate on activities that support scale-up and commercialization. “Specific areas of focus might include resistant strains, large-scale water and CO2 use, development of large open air ponds, circulating algae, dewatering, harvesting and conversion of wet algae into crude, changing strains effectively on a large scale to fit changing climate conditions, and refining into high-grade fuels,” she says. Tim Burns, CEO of BioProcess Algae LLC, says he would also like to see algae take on a more significant role in the DOE’s Biomass Program. “[Algae] is going to be a crop,”
he says, adding that to advance it in a proper fashion, health, productivity and yield advancements must be made. While algae cultivation differs in important ways compared to traditional row crops, it is still a crop. As demand for algae grows, it’s likely the agricultural community will get involved. “If you look at what we do well in this country, we have had one surplus in one industry over the past 70 years and it has been in agriculture,” Burns says. “We are the farmers of the world. We need to take the same approach [with algae], and I think the USDA has great programs and a practical approach to the way it develops programs and gets programs to produce at scale. I think the USDA is a well-suited group to actually move this. Personally, I think it is best positioned to move the advanced fuel and algae spaces.” Zenk says developing a crop insurance program for algae would significantly help the industry reach commercial production. “Farmers are a very conservative lot,” he says. “They also take a great deal of personal risk in that they own their land, and there are things that can wipe out their crops through no fault of their own. Crop insurance is a way to protect the farmer from these circumstances, and the same will be true with algae production, especially those of us who believe there is this nexus between energy, agriculture and biotechnology.” The Biomass Crop Assistance Program is another USDA program that could help fuel expansion in the algae sector. “BCAP doesn’t treat algae the same way it treats terrestrial crops,” Zenk says. “We need to get the USDA to fully embrace [algae] as a new form of farming because of its potential to really bring large-scale energy development to the U.S.” USDA, he says, has an enormous role in this. No matter how the specifics play out in the end policy-wise, the support offered by federal entities is clearly benefiting the algae industry. “It’s absolutely essential that the government continue to maintain the outspoken bravado around algae, and the value to the Department of Defense and the country,” Zenk says. “It’s got to be in our national interest to move the needle, and without that support, it isn’t going to happen.” Author: Erin Voegele Associate Editor, Algae Technology & Business (701) 540-6986 email@example.com
Modular Growth Algae.Tec’s photobioreactor systems are enclosed in 40-foot shipping containers, allowing plug-and-play modular growth.
The Road to Commercialization
With the McConchie-Stroud technology platform and a host of deals in the works, Algae.Tec is helping develop algae’s future By Amy Richardson
Algae.Tec Ltd. was founded in 2007 in Perth, Australia, by former Dow Chemical executive Earl McConchie and biofuels and investment specialist Roger Stroud. After conducting extensive laboratory, bench and pilot tests and product scales, the entrepreneurs perfected the core technology, aptly named the McConchie-Stroud
System, to deliver high-yield, enclosed and economically competitive algae to produce transport biofuels. R&D into algae species continued at the company’s U.S. headquarters, the Algae Research, Development & Manufacturing Centre in Atlanta, originally an 18,200-square-foot fabrication facility that has now expanded to 70,000 square feet. The McConchie-Stroud System is ready for full-
$OJDH,QGXVWU\8SGDWH The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Algae Technology & Business or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).
scale demonstration as part of the road to commercialization. The McConchie-Stroud System uses enclosed steel photobioreactors (40-foot shipping containers) that are linked to solar light capture arrays and a carbon dioxide source (a power station or commercial emitter of carbon dioxide). The system provides the ideal algae growing conditions producing biomass and algal oil at prices below crude oil. The algae product is used for the production of green jet fuel and biodiesel. Importantly, the McConchie-Stroud System does not use human food crop sources
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as feedstock, and it has a smaller footprint, just 10 percent or less, than the pond methods. The enclosed system enables complete control of the environment, maximizing growing conditions while removing external factors such as wild species, storm and tempest, and evaporation. The Algae.Tec board of directors comprises a leading team from biofuels research, industry and financial sectors. Peter Hatfull, the managing director and company secretary, has an extensive skill set in the areas of business optimization, capital raising and company restructuring, and brings valuable accounting and business expertise to the company. Roger Stroud, executive chairman, has more than 35 years of experience in business management, and recently moved into building businesses in the renewable fuel sector, primarily in biodiesel. Garnet Earl McConchie, executive director, has more than 35 years of experience over a broad field of chemical engineering and associated technologies, including global markets, bulk chemicals and plastics, differentiated commodities and intermediates, specialty chemicals, polymers and interaction with environmental sectors. Timothy Morrison, the nonexecutive director, helps extend existing research relationships, and to develop new links with business and industry. His history with Murdoch University in commercial and research roles brings insight to the team. This highly skilled team serves as a strong foundation for Algae. Tec. In 2011, the company listed on the Australian and Frankfurt stock exchanges, and launched an American Depository Receipts program in the U.S. Last June, Algae. Tec signed a collaboration contract with the Manildra Group for the construction of its Australian demonstration facility at Nowra, south of Sydney, Australia. Known as Shoalhaven One, the facility is set up so Algae.Tec’s photoreactors sit next to the main facility, taking a carbon dioxide feed from the main ethanol fermenters. The start up of this facility was expected to be late March.
The Basics This process diagram shows Algae.Tec’s ultimate commercial intentions with algae, from ethanol to animal feed to biodiesel.
Algae.Tec’s success over the past 14 months has attracted considerable interest in the fast-growing biofuels sector and investor circles. It finished 2011 as the top IPO performer on the ASX, and has signed deals and collaborations with some of the world’s leading companies in Asia, Europe and the U.S., and has secured $11 million in additional capital (post-IPO). In December, Algae.Tec signed a collaboration contract to initiate its first algae biofuels production facility in Asia with the Sri Lanka arm of global cement giant Holcim. The staged facility is expected to be fully operational within the next 24 months. “The Algae.Tec facility is designed to reduce the cement manufacturing carbon dioxide emissions with an offtake into the algae growth system,” said Holcim Lanka CEO Stefan Huber. “We look forward to working with Algae.Tec on this exciting development that is aligned with our focus on sustainability and a commitment to the environment. Algae.Tec has a truly innovative technology backed by an expert international engineering team.” Following this, in the same month, Algae.Tec and the major European airline $OJDH,QGXVWU\8SGDWH Lufthansa signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly evaluate the 22 |
potential for algae oil to be developed into a sustainable source of green jet fuel. In January, Algae. Tec signed a binding MOU for a 50/50 equity joint venture (JV) Experienced in China with Chinese Leadership Executive Chairman company the Shandong Roger Stroud has Kerui Group Holdmore than 35 years of ing Ltd. Under this JV, experience in business management. a 250-module algae biofuels facility will be built, the first of its size and type in the world. The Kerui Group, based in Shandong Province, the second largest oil province in China, has extensive business interests in the People’s Republic of China, primarily in the manufacturing of oilfield and petroleum industry equipment, and power generation and building facilities. The group has offices in 18 countries outside China. According to the Kerui Group, China has targeted pollution and carbon as part of its current fiveyear plan from 2011 to 2015, so the Algae. Tec carbon-capture solution is expected to be well-received by carbon-emitting companies and the government. Algae.Tec executive chairman Stroud said, “The Algae.Tec
technology will reduce unwanted emissions and will convert them into locally produced transport fuels, which will add to fuel independence.” This deal positions Algae.Tec for expansion in the fastest growing economy in the world. Meanwhile, Algae.Tec had been briefing investor groups in the U.S., Asia and Europe and secured working capital of $6.42 million from an investor group in the U.S., then worked with Australia-based Paterson’s Securities in a successful placement that raised $5.35 million. The capital will be used to fasttrack commercial projects. Stroud said the successful capital raising demonstrates that sophisticated investors are aligned with the need for alternative transport fuel technologies like Algae.Tec’s. Biofuels, particularly from nonfood crop sources such as algae, are attracting investor interest around the globe. Algae.Tec is continuing its collaboration and JV strategy with the aim of rolling out biofuels production facilities around the globe. Author: Amy Richardson Account Executive, DMG Media Marketing +61 2 8006 0424 firstname.lastname@example.org
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