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Alternative Energy - Biofuels from Algae as a Viable Prospect John Korstad, PhD.
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Alternative Energy - Biofuels from Algae as a Viable Prospect John Korstad, PhD
“This year, Americans will pay $650 billion for imported oil, plus another $400 billion for US oil, for a total bill of over $1 trillion. In 2008, OPEC will clear $1.5 trillion in net export profits.”
Dr. Robert Zubrin
11111 W. 8th Ave, unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215
'Oil Itself Is a Problem‘ An Interview with inFOCUS Quarterly (June 18, 2009)
iF: “You've been working to get America off oil. What's driving your effort?”
JW:“Oil, since it has a 96 percent monopoly on transportation, is a substantial problem from the point of view of emissions of carbon dioxide.”
“OPEC dominates oil and sets oil's prices. Practically everything that we do requires transporting something. So, oil dominance and OPEC's dominance of oil presents an extraordinary national security problem for us, in a number of ways.”
In September 2009, the powerful Saudi Arabian leader Prince Turki Al-Faisal called the Democrats’ call for energy independence through renewables and the Republicans’ call for energy independence through a little more US drilling “a concept that is unrealistic, misguided, and ultimately harmful to energy-producing and -consuming countries alike.” His position is that the US is and will be dependent on oil producing giants like Saudi Arabia (with 25% of the world’s oil) for decades to come.And while talk of “switch-grass” and “Drill, baby drill” leading to rapid US oil independence is all very well, it is an entertaining distraction, a sideshow. When the US economy comes surging back in the next few months and the demand for oil spikes again, it is not biofuels or solar power, or an incremental uptick in drilling in the US that will come to the rescue of beleaguered drivers on US turnpikes, it is Turki Al-Faisal’s oil reservoirs.
In March, Royal Dutch Shell announced a freeze on its wind solar and hydrogen power investments, focusing instead on biofuels.
Shell formed joint venture company Cellana, which operates a pilot facility in Hawaii to grow marine algae and produce vegetable oil for conversion into biodiesel. Algae hold great promise because they grow very rapidly, are rich in vegetable oil and can be cultivated in ponds of seawater, minimising the use of fertile land and fresh water.
Since March 2008, Shell has partnered with Virent Energy Systems in the USA on a research project to convert plant sugars directly into petrol and diesel, rather than ethanol. The collaboration could herald the availability in the future of biofuels that can be blended in higher proportions in standard petrol engines.
For more detailed description of alternative energy sources and costs
see US DOE Web site: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/assumption/pdf/renewable.pdf
Cost by technology
Conventional Combustion Turbine
Tilman et al. 17 July 2009 Science 325:270-271
The search for beneficial biofuels should focus on sustainable biomass feedstocks that neither compete with food crops nor directly or indirectly cause land-clearing and that offer advantages in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Perennials grown on degraded formerly agricultural land, municipal and industrial sold waste, crop and forestry residues, and double or mixed crops offer great potential. The best biofuels make good substitutes for fossil energy. A recent analysis suggests that more than 500 million tons of such feedstocks could be produced annually in the United States (NAS 2009). Algae????
Everyone in Kibwezi, a village in southeastern Kenya parched by four years of drought, remembers the promises. It all started in 2000, when the government started preaching the word about a plant called jatropha curcas. The government told the farmers, however, that jatropha seeds can be pressed to make biofuel and that scientists believed the plant's seeds contained more oil than other biofuel crops. Even better, the government said, jatropha needed little tending. All you had to do was stick it in the ground and watch it grow. Best of all for Kibwezi, a place that's frequently stricken by drought, scientists believed that the plant thrived on arid land. Convinced they could reap large profits from the plant in the global craze for alternative energy sources, hundreds of farmers turned over acres of their small farms to jatropha. But "The people who did the promotion for jatropha had not done [their] research ... because we have realized that the crop is getting moisture stress just like any other crop," he says. A study published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Washington-based scientific journal, found that jatropha actually requires more water per liter of biofuel produced than most other biofuel plants.
As the food crisis deepens, more and more cultivable land is being used to grow plants for the production of 'ecological', non-oil based fuels. This German landscape is a patchwork of rapeseed (canola) fields between cornfields and other food crops. Measurements of emissions from the burning of biofuels derived from canola and corn have been found to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than they save. http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1731280_1565371,00.html
Biofuels Feedstock Performance against Environmental, Social, Economic, & Agronomic Criteria
Johnston Biofuels in Asia 2009
FIGURE 1. Schematic of systems considered in this work. Model scope includes all upstream processing of biomass material. Conversion to liquid or solid fuel is intentionally excluded. Clarens et al. 2010. Environmental Life Cycle Comparison of Algae to Other Bioenergy Feedstocks. Environ. Sci. Technol.
“There is no magic-bullet fuel crop that can solve our energy woes without harming the environment, says virtually every scientist studying the issue. But most say that algae… comes closer than any other plant…” National Geographic October, 2007
Algae produce more O2 and oils per unit biomass than terrestrial plants.
Unique Lighting Technologies for Use in Photo Bio Reactor Systems
Source citations mentioned in ALGAE 2020 STUDY, Emerging Markets Online
12.31.06 GreenFuel's president Dr. Isaac Berzin ... possibility of attaining US self-sufficiency in liquid fuels:
1. Open Ponds and Raceway Systems
A Photo-Bioreactor in Translucent Tube from GreenFuels
Global Green Solutions/Vertigro Vertical Photo Bioreactor System
Diversified Energy http://www.diversified-energy.com/index.cfm?s_webAction=simgae
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Montana State University and Utah State University a three-year, $900,000 grant to study the oil produced by algae, which could be a renewable source of biodiesel.
(1 company in 2001 and ~50 in 2008):
Algae BioFuels OriginOil
Aquaflow Bionic Corp. Sapphire
Bio Fuel Systems Seambiotic
GreenFuel Technologies Solazyme
Green Star Products, Inc. Solix
Enhanced Biofuels & Technologies Synthetic Genomics
Icon Energy Valcent
Infinifuel Biodiesel Vertigro
International Alga Technol.
Green = companies I’m most familiar with.
Source: Biodiesel 2020 study, Emerging Markets Online
Launching a significant ($600 million) new program teaming up with Synthetic Genomics to research and develop next-generation biofuels from algae. This is part of our ongoing commitment to advance breakthrough energy technologies to help address the world’s long term energy challenges.
Algae are grown in either open ponds or closed photobioreactors. As they grow, algae accumulate fats and bio-oils that have similar molecular structures to traditional crude oil. The bio-oil is extracted or harvested from the algae. Bio-oil will be further processed in existing refineries, just as crude oil is refined today, to produce a range of products including gasoline, diesel, jet and marine fuel.
Gallons of fuel per acre per year of production
Algae — 2000 gallons per acre per year.
Approx. yields for other fuel sources are far lower:Palm — 650 gallons per acre per yearSugar cane — 450 gallons per acre per yearCorn — 250 gallons per acre per yearSoy — 50 gallons per acre per year
Chief executive of Sapphire Energy Inc., a San Diego biofuels company that grew out of a dinner argument in 2006, where Pyle contended that biofuels, especially corn ethanol, were a flawed fad that could never be developed on a commercial scale. But ever the problem solver, he, along with partners Kristina Burow and Nathaniel David, began looking into alternative fuel sources. Sapphire hopes to produce 1 million gallons of algae diesel and jet fuel each year in the next two years, and up to a massive 1 billion gallons of fuel a year by 2025.
High-Yield, Non-Food Oil, Non-Ag and Non-Rainforest areas
Source: Solix Biofuels
Algae Biofuel To Send Astronauts to Space? Israel's Seambiotic Partners With NASA (7.6.09)
Seambiotic, located in Ashkelon, Israel, uses eight raceway/paddle-wheel open-ponds for algae cultivation, fed by C02 flue-gas from a nearby Israeli Electric Corporation power plant. The company employs genetic optimization and has teamed up with Inventure Chemical to turn the algae into fuel. http://www.greentechmedia.com/green-light/post/whats-it-all-about-algae1/
PetroAlgae Their modular, flexible design construction, enables a near-continuous growing and harvesting process of a wide variety of micro-crops suited to local climates, ensuring maximum growth rates.
Micro-crops can be grown on non-arable land, removing competition with the food supply, a significant issue facing macro-crops. Micro-crop fuels are carbon-neutral, consuming nearly double their own weight in CO2, and 98% of the water used to grow micro-crops is recycled. The harvested micro-crop is screw-pressed into two components: a carbohydrate-rich solid and a protein-rich liquid.
This chemical-free, low cost method is OriginOil's major product, and can be used in their systems as well as licensed to other companies.
This dramatic time-lapse video begins with a batch of algae that has just gone through OriginOil’s breakthrough process. In less than an hour, the oil, water and biomass separate by gravity alone. Unlike conventional systems, no chemicals or heavy machinery are used in this single-step process, and no initial dewatering is required.
On August 28, 2009, Dr. Kris Niyogi, Prof. of Algal Biology at UC Berkeley, answered selected viewer questions about algae, biofuel, and more. See From Pond Scum to Power below for video:
..\Algae\NOVA & PBS\NOVA scienceNOW Algae Fuel Ask the Expert PBS.mht
$24.99; 56 min.
The process doesn't harm the algae like other methods being developed, which helps reduce both production costs and the production cycle.
Botryococcus braunii can produce long chain hydrocarbons representing 86% of its dry weight. This green alga is unique in the quality and quantity of the liquid hydrocarbons it produces. Some scientists consider the ancestors of Botryococcus to be responsible for many of the world's fossil fuel deposits.
Industries for which it is attractive to explore investing in the algal energy domain owing to synergistic benefits:
1. Sewage & Water Treatment Companies
2. Agriculture & Farming
3. Companies that produce waste water
Meat and Poultry (e.g., Nearby Tyson Foods in NE OK & NW AR)
Pesticides & Insecticides
4. Companies that are major CO2 polluters:
Coal Burning and Natural Gas Power Plants
Oil refineries (petrochemicals)
Iron & Steel Industries
How much CO2 can algae consume?~2g CO2/1g algae (=2x their biomass)
Addressing Climate Change: Biologic Sequestration of CO2
• Average person produces 2.3 tons per year
• Average car produces 6 tons per year
• An acre of normal forest consumes 2-3 tons per year
• An acre of oranges consumes 1-2 tons per year
• An acre of typical farm consumes 2 tons per year
• An acre of algae consumes ~60 tons per year
‘Energy is the most important scientific and technological challenge facing humanity in the twenty-first century. Energy security and environmental security have come to the forefront of both global and national priorities.’ Professor Nathan Lewis
“We will never achieve a sustainable and secure future by extrapolating from the technologies and actions that have led us to the unsustainable and insecure present. Thus the feasibility of large-scale bioenergy production is most informatively approached from a ‘high beams perspective’ considering the world as it could be, rather than a ‘low beams’ perspective considering the world as it is.”
Dr. Lee Rybeck Lynd
Paul E. and Joan H. Queneau Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering Design, Dartmouth College
His group has genetically engineered a thermophilic bacterium that's able to grow at high temperatures, and makes ethanol as the only product of its fermentation.
Hot Spots for Green Jobs in Solar, Biofuels & More
October 19, 2009
Top 5 Sectors for Clean-Tech Job Activity (U.S.):
2. Biofuels & Biomaterials
3. Conservation & Efficiency
4. Smart Grid
5. Wind Power
Clean-tech Hotspots by Metro Area:
1 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
2 Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA
3 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA
4 Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton, MA-NH
5 Washington-Baltimore, D.C.-MD-VA-WV
6 Denver-Boulder-Greeley, CO
7 Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton, WA
8 Portland-Salem, OR
9 Chicago-Gary-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI
10 Sacramento-Yolo County, CA
11 San Diego, CA
12 Austin-San Marcos, TX
13 Phoenix, AZ
14 Detroit-Ann Arbor, MI
15 Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX
*Companies dedicated to clean-tech activities such as solar, wind, water filtration, and energy intelligence
Rank Company Headquarters Sector/Activity Employees
1 Vestas Wind Systems Denmark Wind 21,100
2 LDK Solar China Solar 14,100
3 Nalco Naperville, IL Water 11,700
4 Suntech Power China Solar 9,000
5 Itron Liberty Lake, WA Smart Grid 8,700
6 China BAK Battery China Energy Storage 8,200
7 Baldor Electric Fort Smith, AR Electric Motors 7,800
8 Gamesa Spain Wind 7,200
9 Kingspan Group Ireland Green Building 5,500
10 SunPower San Jose, CA Solar 5,400
Based on companies’ reported claims and publicly available Q2 2009 financial filings/most recent annual reports.