Iowa Could Get First Algae-Biodiesel Plant

John Davis

While Iowa might be best known for its large amount of corn and soybeans being turned into ethanol and biodiesel, the Hawkeye State might get into a feedstock more associated with the layer of scum that grows on its many farm ponds.

According to this story in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Iowa Power Fund board is looking into funding the state’s first algae-to-biodiesel project:

gpre.gifA pilot plant proposed by Green Plains Renewable Energy would use three byproducts from the company’s Shenandoah plant – waste water, waste carbon dioxide, and waste heat from dryers – as feedstock to grow algae. The algae would then be harvested and processed into biodiesel

The Iowa Power Fund board authorized final negotiations for $2,190,407 state grant for phase I of the two-phase project.

“The availability of new technologies and new feedstocks for renewable fuels is critical to our state and regional economies,” said Scott Poor, corporate counsel and director of external communications for Green Plains Renewable Energy.

The project would initially involve the development of a 100-square-meter pilot plot for algae growth. If the project is developed at commercial scale, it would cover about 250 acres with algae impoundments covered by movable greenhouse-like structures to sequester carbon.

GreenFuel Technologies, Green Plains’ partner in this project, is not new to the algae-biodiesel game. The company has been involved in other algae projects in Arizona and Kansas.

Green Plains’ ethanol plant in Shenandoah has already been pretty successful since opening last August, producing even more than its initially-projected 50 million gallons of ethanol a year. The company plans to open another ethanol plant in Superior later this year.