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Friday, February 02, 2007

PetroSun/Algae Biofuels One Step Closer to Commercializing Algae-based Biofuels


PetroSun, Inc.'s field testing of the cultivation of algae for biodiesel production has progressed to the final stage prior to the construction of a commercial cultivation facility [see previous post on PetroSun].

This final stage will consist of producing adequate algae paste to test the output and economics of several biodiesel refinery manufacturers now under consideration by Algae Biofuels, a wholly owned subsidiary of PetroSun, which will own and operate the production and refinery facilities.

Algae BioFuels is considering sites in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Louisiana and Michigan for its initial commercial cultivation of algae feedstock in the U.S. In the foreign market, Australia and China are the leading candidates for production and refinery operations.

"Should the cultivation process prove to be successful outside of the U.S. Sunbelt, Algae BioFuels' model is to locate production and refinery sites near major cities and truck routes to reduce the cost of biodiesel in those areas," said Gordon LeBlanc, Jr., PetroSun, CEO.

The consumption of diesel fuel in the U.S. for on-highway use is 39 billion gallons per year and increasing over 3% annually. This represents 22% by sales and volume of the total U.S. transportation fuel market. The cost of diesel fuel has increased dramatically the past few years as a result of higher oil prices and refining costs due to the Ultra Low Sulfur diesel laws.

Algae-based biodiesel contains no sulfur, is non-toxic, highly biodegradable and is not subject to a commodity risk as is crude oil, corn and soybeans.

Algae BioFuels joins at least three other companies developing algae-based biofuel products - Solix Biofuels, whose in partnership with Colorado State University [previous post], GreenFuel Technologies Corporation [previous Energy Blog post and the cleantech business development company GreenShift (who is licensing technology developed at Ohio University) [previous Energy Blog post]. All four companies are developing algal bioreactors designed to feed off of waste CO2 and heat from industrial processes and powerplants, effectively recycling the CO2 from industrial or power plant emissions into algae-based biofuels.

While algae-based biofuels often take back seat to cellulosic ethanol when discussing second-generation biofuels, next-generation algae-based biofuels have the potential to scale large enough to actually make a significant impact on petroleum consumption. These companies are quietly commercializing these technologies, and I wish them luck in their efforts. If succesful, we could have yet another viable tool in our growing 'bag of tricks' to combat climate change, reduce our oil dependence and help us transition to a sustainable energy future.


Anonymous said...

See "All the Shah's Men" by Stephen Kinzer, for a true expose of Operation Ajax, in order to understand what algal biodiesel is up against.

"Bag of tricks??" 6.5 to 13 million gallons per square mile annually sounds more like a giant killer to me...

Anonymous said...

BioDiesol from algae is becoming a very real application and is being tested and used to produce on mass scales. The left over algae is used for animal feed and these can be set up all over the world.

One company that is the leader in this department is PetroSun a publicly traded company trading under the symbol: (OTC: PSUD)

Petrosun has already began to set up a large facility in the State of Alabama and is working with the University directly.

PetroSun, Incorporated (PINKSHEETS: PSUD) announced today that the Company has filed the Articles of Incorporation for AL-G-BAMA, Incorporated with the State of Alabama. The Company was formed as the result of recent meetings with officials from the State of Alabama, Auburn University and private interests regarding the cultivation of algae for the purpose of biofuel and animal feed production within the state. PetroSun holds an eighty percent equity position in AL-G-BAMA with the balance held by private parties from Alabama.

The initial pilot plant will be located in Opelika, Alabama. The purpose of this facility is to test both open and closed algae growth systems for commercial viability. The Company will also test extraction and refining technology from several manufacturers during the field trials.

Algae BioFuels, a PetroSun wholly owned subsidiary, will license technology to AL-G-BAMA and joint operate the facility with the other equity partners.

This could be a very interesting company to follow as developments unfold.

Woodzy said...

A recently developed procedure for growing algae is designed to increase the hydrodgen production. The facility is in West Texas and grows the alage in plastic bags.