Merrick designs, commissions pilot algae project

By Merrick & Co. | February 26, 2015

Merrick & Co. was engaged by Genifuel Corp. to provide the design and commissioning of a hydrothermal processing pilot system for Reliance Industries Ltd. Merrick was responsible for the design of the facility, from front end engineering through detailed design and testing. The system uses heat, pressure, and catalysts to chemically and physically convert wet feedstocks into natural gas or oil that can then be further refined into aviation fuel, gasoline, and diesel. The system is skid mounted with electrical, instrumentation, and controls components that are compatible with the standards of India, where it will be expanded to a larger scale after testing is finalized on the current system. Springs Fabrication Inc. fabricated the skids, installed all the equipment on them, and provided space and utilities for commissioning.

The technology originated at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. The Federal Laboratory Consortium just awarded PNNL the 2015 Excellence in Technology Transfer for its work on the project. The current system will process algae, and as stated in this press release, “Unlike traditional extraction methods, which separate lipids out of algae to make biodiesel, PNNL's process converts whole algae into biocrude, fuel gas, and usable byproducts. This doubles the yield of biofuel from algae and cuts the cost of production by 86 percent.”

According to Jim Oyler, president of Genifuel, “This award demonstrates how effectively the Federal Laboratory System can work with private industry to convert taxpayer-funded R&D into economic growth for the country. Typically successful R&D contributes many times over when it leads to a practical product, and this award recognizes the kind of collaboration that makes this possible.”