Pond Biofuels awarded funds for algae pilot plant

By Erin Voegele | July 02, 2012

The Canadian government has announced plans to invest nearly $1 million in an algae pilot facility under development by Pond Biofuels at the St. Marys Cement Inc. plant. The funding, which was been awarded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, will allow the first phase of the pilot project to be completed.

The facility will use local algae varieties sourced from the Thames River to convert carbon dioxide present in the cement plant’s flue gas emissions into algae biomass, which can then be used to produce biofuel or food products. Pond Biofuels also noted the algae biomass could be used in agricultural applications or as a substitute for coal.

The unique bioreactor system uses sunlight during the day to fuel algae growth. At night, LED lights are used to support photosynthesis.

“While looking for new methods to reduce our emissions, we were inspired by Pond Biofuels’ forward-thinking, innovative approach to an issue that impacts the global manufacturing industry,” said Martin Vroegh, corporate environment manager at St Marys Cement. “We’re proud to partner with Pond Biofuels on this gaming-changing initiative, offering them a living industrial lab to perfect their sustainable technology.”

Pond Biofuels and St. Marys Cement formed their partnership in 2008. The goal is to establish an operational commercial scale facility by 2014 that would produce 225,000 metric tons of algae biomass and 29 million liters (7.66 million gallons) of algae oil per year.  

“In recent years, algae technology has emerged as a more viable approach to biofuels production,” said Steven Martin, CEO of Pond Biofuels. “Through our partnership with St Marys Cement, and with support from the government, we’re one step closer to commercializing our algae-based system for industrial use, worldwide.”