On Friday April 15, BioProcess Algae, dedicated its Grower Harvester bioreactors signaling the final phase of construction for its commercial scale algae biorefinery. On hand for the event in Shenandoah, Iowa, were USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack along with Green Plains Renewable Energy (GRPE) CEO Todd Becker and Mary Rosenthal, the executive director of the Algal Biomass Association. After touring the biorefinery, Vilsack delivered the keynote address to a standing room only crowd, despite the cold and raining Iowa weather.
The BioProcess Algae technology is unique in several ways; one in that it is sited next to a first generation corn-ethanol plant owned by GPRE. The algae plant utilizes the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the ethanol process to grow the algae. The plant also utilizes the waste heat and waste water from the ethanol plant, creating in essence, one symbiotic biorefinery that will produce biofuels, feed and fiber.
Tim Burns, CEO of BioProcess Algae said during his presentation that they couldn’t have a better partnership in GPRE. He also said that in terms of co-location, he sees the modern day future in farms. “When you fly over Iowa 10 or 15 years from now, you’re going to see corn and soy but you’re going to see concentric circles of algae farms taking the
“This is going to become the big source for feed and fuel for our country and its also going to have a trajectory, in our opinion, similar to the ethanol industry.” Burns believes that the costs to produce algal biofuels will lower dramatically as more and more technologies come to market just as they have with corn-ethanol production over the past 30 plus years.
The first concentric circle of algae will be located right in Shenandoah. “The next step for us is to take our commercial scale reactors and build out an algae farm at our ethanol plant in Shenandoah, which can provide inputs needed for feed, food and next generation algae-based fuels,” said Todd Becker, CEO of GPRE. “The co-location at an ethanol plant has proven to be the right platform to rapidly commercialize the technology.”
As Vilsack and Burns “cut the ribbon,” simultaneously the Grower Harvester bioreactors lit up in the background. With Phase II officially under way, Burns believes commercial scale algae fuels production is less than 2 years away.
You can see photos from the event in my Flickr Photo Album.