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ALGAE TO ETHANOL: Using algae fermentation to produce ethanol . 4 th AFRICAN BIOFUEL CONFERENCE March 2009. Algae!. Why Algae?. Fast growers relative to other plants and animals can double their weight every day High carbohydrate/low lignin content Gallons of oil per acre per year

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algae to ethanol using algae fermentation to produce ethanol

ALGAE TO ETHANOL: Using algae fermentation to produce ethanol

4th AFRICAN BIOFUEL CONFERENCE

March 2009

why algae
Why Algae?
  • Fast growers relative to other plants and animals
    • can double their weight every day
  • High carbohydrate/low lignin content
  • Gallons of oil per acre per year
    • corn 18
    • soybeans 48
    • sunflower 102
    • rapeseed 127
    • oil palm 635
    • micro algae 5 000 - 15 000
process selection objectives
Process Selection Objectives…
  • Must be simple
  • The process itself must be “bullet proof”
  • Must have low maintenance
  • A labourer must be able to look after algae production
  • A semi-skilled labourer must be able to run conversion
  • Must have low operating costs
    • little or no nutrient cost
    • little or no energy cost
why algae to ethanol
Why Algae to Ethanol…
  • Wild algae
    • have to be fast growers to survive in nature
    • generally contain <10% oil (lipid)
    • generally contain high carbohydrate >50%
    • can be grown in open raceways without fear of contamination
  • Equipment
    • raceways are low cost installations ($75 000/ha)
    • raceways consume very little power (10 kW/ha)
    • starch to ethanol conversion plant is relatively expensive and energy intensive (distillation)
why algae to ethanol7
Why Algae to Ethanol…
  • High oil producing algae
    • are slower growers than wild algae – double every 2-3 days
    • can be selected for maximum oil content – 50% not unusual
    • need to be grown in protected environment – typically PBR’s
    • most algae oil can be used for biodiesel production
  • Photobioreactors (PBR’s)
    • allow tight control of growing environment
    • optimise light usage
    • are capital intensive
    • are generally power intensive (300 kW/ha?)
processing steps
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

Algae

processing steps10
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

Algae

dlute slurry

liquid

Concentration

processing steps11
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

Algae

dlute slurry

liquid

Concentration

concentratedslurry

acid

Hydrolysis

heat

processing steps12
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

Algae

dlute slurry

liquid

Concentration

concentrated slurry

acid

alkali

Hydrolysis

Fermentation

heat

cooling

yeast

processing steps13
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

Algae

dlute slurry

liquid

ethanol

Distillation

Concentration

concentrated slurry

“beer”

acid

alkali

Hydrolysis

Fermentation

heat

cooling

yeast

processing steps14
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

Algae

Digestion

dlute slurry

liquid

stillage

ethanol

Distillation

Concentration

concentrated slurry

“beer”

acid

alkali

Hydrolysis

Fermentation

heat

cooling

yeast

processing steps15
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

biogas

solid digestate

liquid digestate

Algae

Digestion

dlute slurry

liquid

stillage

ethanol

Distillation

Concentration

concentrated slurry

“beer”

acid

alkali

Hydrolysis

Fermentation

heat

cooling

yeast

processing steps16
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

biogas

solid digestate

liquid digestate

Algae

Digestion

dlute slurry

liquid

stillage

ethanol

Distillation

Concentration

CO2

concentrated slurry

“beer”

acid

alkali

Hydrolysis

Fermentation

heat

cooling

yeast

processing steps17
Processing Steps

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

biogas

solid digestate

liquid digestate

Algae

Digestion

dlute slurry

liquid

stillage

ethanol

CO2

Distillation

Concentration

CO2

concentrated slurry

“beer”

acid

alkali

CO2

Hydrolysis

Fermentation

heat

cooling

yeast

processing steps18
Processing Steps

~

CO2

CHP

CO2

sunlight

oxygen

biogas

solid digestate

liquid digestate

Algae

Digestion

dlute slurry

liquid

stillage

ethanol

CO2

Distillation

Concentration

CO2

concentrated slurry

“beer”

acid

alkali

CO2

Hydrolysis

Fermentation

heat

cooling

yeast

pilot plant
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
pilot plant24
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
    • digester
pilot plant26
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
    • digester
    • “compost tea” maker
pilot plant28
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
    • digester
    • “compost tea” maker
    • DAF container to make “white water”
pilot plant32
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
    • digester
    • “compost tea” maker
    • DAF container to make “white water”
    • stainless steel pressure cooker
pilot plant34
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
    • digester
    • “compost tea” maker
    • DAF container to make “white water”
    • stainless steel pressure cooker
    • plastic fermenter
pilot plant36
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
    • digester
    • “compost tea” maker
    • DAF container to make “white water”
    • stainless steel pressure cooker
    • plastic fermenter
    • electrically operated stainless steel batch still
pilot plant38
Pilot Plant
  • Components
    • 20m2 raceway with 0.55 kW paddle drive
    • solar panels to supply heat to the digester
    • digester
    • “compost tea” maker
    • DAF container to make “white water”
    • stainless steel pressure cooker
    • plastic fermenter
    • electrically operated stainless steel batch still
    • various tanks, pumps, drums and buckets
pilot plant results
Pilot Plant Results
  • Main Production Results
    • algae density 4 gram/litre
    • growth 140 g/m2/day
    • oil recovery negligible
    • ethanol production 50 - 70 ml ethanol/m2/day
commercial production
Commercial Production
  • Physical requirements
    • relatively level site
commercial production48
Commercial Production
  • Physical requirements
    • relatively level site
    • water
    • power to drive paddles
  • Potential deployment for “emerging farmers”
    • can be deployed to tribal areas
    • relatively low cost for ponds ~ R75/m2
    • centralized conversion plant:
      • can use a tanker for moving algae nutrient and concentrate to and from algae ponds to centralized plant
      • better economy of scale for larger plant
      • better process and inventory control
challenges to commercialization
Challenges to Commercialization
  • Oil price stability
  • High capital cost
  • Limited markets at small volumes
  • Theft of product
  • Challenges to tribal area deployment
    • Power for paddles: solar?
    • Theft and vandalism – cables, tanks and pumps are vulnerable
summary
Summary
  • Production of algae to produce ethanol is economically viable
  • Wild algae production does not require a lot of attention
  • Can be rolled out for emerging farmers
  • Conversion plant operation requires semi-skilled expertise
slide54
QUESTIONS?

rex@process.co.za

www.process.co.za