Ohio algae company secures patent for open pond systems
Dublin, Ohio-based Independence Bio-Products has been issued a patent for its open pond algae production system. The patent for invention number 7,905,049 B2 covers methods and systems for growing algae in water with a heating source, drying the algae with a heat source, and as an alternative to a heat source, partially covering the body of water where the algae is grown. According to the company, heat recovery systems, algae processing systems and covers are also included under the patent.
IBP’s technology features a system that heats algae ponds with heat recovered from power plants and other manufacturing facilities. Information released by the company states that the system is designed to maintain water temperatures within precise temperature ranges in order to optimize algae production.
“Basically, what we are doing is using…a diffusion system to capture the waste heat from the power plant and take it to the ponds,” said Brad Lambert, IBP spokesman. The method prevents ponds located in cold weather regions from freezing over, allowing algae to be cultivated year round, he said. The method to dry the algae also utilizes waste heat sourced from adjacent power plants or industrial facilities.
“Maintaining ideal temperatures is a key issue for growing algae in open ponds, and efforts to use electric, natural gas and propane heaters have proven expensive and inefficient,” said IBP Founder and President Ron Erd. “By using heat recovered from an adjacent industrial facility, our patented process offers a cost-effective approach to producing biofuels and animal feeds along with high-value coproducts such as carotenoids for nutraceuticals, not to mention the significant benefit of carbon capture with the process. Further, it allows IBP to operate in regions that algae operations have previously not considered to be viable. For example, areas that have plentiful water to operate low-cost open ponds typically experience low temperatures for part of the year.”
According to Lambert, his company is working to secure two additional patents for its technology. Work on these patents is already underway, with one expected to be issued within the year.
IBP operates a demonstration project adjacent to a power plant in Shadyside, Ohio, and is working to develop commercial operations in Texas. The Texas project will initially encompass 400 acres of algae production, with potential to expand operations up to 20,000 acres in the future. The initial stage of the project is expected to be operational by 2012. According to Lambert, his company has already secured a letter of intent for the off-take at the proposed facility and expects to be exhibiting land control for the plant by early July.