Algae.Tec signs collaboration contract for demonstration plant
Australia-based Algae.Tec Ltd. has formed a collaboration contract with the Manildra Group to construct a demonstration-scale algae production facility at its 100 MMgy ethanol plant in Nowra, Australia. According to Algae.Tec Executive Chairman Roger Stroud, the project could be operational by the first quarter of 2012.
Manildra is making several contributions to the project, including access to the land and utilities. “They have also made their personnel freely available,” Stroud said. “Furthermore, through their goodwill, they have facilitated the liaison with local contractors and specialist groups required from time to time during the construction process.” In turn, Algae.Tec’s role in the project is to build the demonstration plant, and ensure safety and site regulations are met, Stroud continued.
One primary advantage of locating the demonstration scale facility at the Manildra ethanol plant is the variety of CO2 sources that are available. “Due to the industrial nature of the site, and its mix of CO2 sources, there is sufficient flexibility with the demonstration site to carry out a valid and credible operation without obstructing the day-to-day operations,” Stroud said. “The ethanol plant CO2 is easily accessible. The fact that it is the largest [ethanol plant] in Australia adds to the synergy of the program, as the algae produces simple sugars in its [biomass], which could be a feedstock for ethanol fermentation at a commercial level of algae production.”
Algae.Tec’s technology features enclosed photobioreactors. “The essential nature of the technology is to pass light from rotating parabolic light collectors, through an optic fibre system, to each module, which is a 40 foot high top sea container,” Stroud said. “Additionally, high CO2 bearing stack gas is passed into the containers with nutrient rich water. Within the containers, the algae will grow in very ideal conditions.”
Photobioreactors that will be installed at the demonstration site are currently being assembled at Algae.Tec’s U.S.-based location, the Algae Development & Manufacturing Centre in Atlanta, Ga. Each module is expected to be capable of producing 250 tons of dry algae per year. According to Stroud, site preparation at the ethanol plant will begin in October, with the project becoming operational in early 2012.
Stroud also noted that his company currently intends to convert a percentage of the algae produced at the demonstration facility into biodiesel for use by Australia’s armed forces. Alternatively, some of the algae feedstock will be converted into jet fuel and used for testing purposes in aircraft engines.