Aquaflow biofuel technology shows potential

By Anna Austin
Web exclusive posted Sept. 17, 2008 at 11:25 a.m. CST

New Zealand-based Aquaflow Bionomic Corp. has announced that it has produced its first samples of green-crude from wild and natural algae. The company said the green-crude differs slightly from first-generation biofuels because it's made solely from photosynthetic microorganisms (algae), which absorb sunlight, carbon dioxide, and nutrients found in waste streams or agricultural runoff. Essentially, green-crude has the same origins as traditional oil reserves. Aquaflow Chairman Barry Leay said the outputs from the samples are showing similar or greater potential than existing petroleum products.

"Our proprietary processes maximize the entire biomass value of the wild algae," said Brenda Saunders, media coordinator for Aquaflow Bionomic. "What this produces is a crude oil equivalent to mineral crude. From this crude-we call it green-crude-we can then fraction out a variety of fuels and chemicals, including aviation fuel," Saunders said.

Aquaflow Bionomic was founded in 2005. The technology being used was the product of research prior to the company's founding. In 2007, the company developed a prototype refinery in which the process was scaled-up.

The technology, which is intended to be used to clean industrial waste streams, allows the algae to fully optimize the nutrients available in settling oxidation ponds which are located in Marlborough, New Zealand. The algae is harvested and separated from contaminants, immediately ready to be converted into a usable biofuel, such as biodiesel. To ensure the water discharge from the process meets acceptable quality standards, it's sent though a bio-remediation stage, which makes the water useable for irrigation and various treatment processes.

In addition to producing biofuels from the algae, Aquaflow Bionomic has a large focus on clean-up and management services to entities responsible for sewage treatment systems. The company said eventually, the process can be used in a variety of industries that produce a waste stream, such as transport, dairy, meat and paper industries.

"We're continuing to explore the range of products that may be developed from green-crude," Leay said, and it's likely the company will produce multiple products which can be literally "dropped into" the existing petroleum infrastructure. "Aquaflow is not-unlike many others-just focused on the maximization of lipid oil content to enable the production of biodiesel," added Saunders. "We are focused on truly sustainable products."

Leay said Aquaflow's technology may provide solutions to two of the most significant global issues-water security and energy security.