Saltwater Could Make Algae-Biodiesel Profitable

John Davis

While algae-based biodiesel continues to grow in interest, producers of the REALLY green fuel are trying to find ways to make sure they can turn a profit… just like any biodiesel producer. Being able to grow algae in the more plentiful saltwater could be key to making the process profitable.

aurorabiofuelsThis story from the gas2.0 Web site says California-based Aurora Biofuels has completed an 18-month pilot project that produced 1,000 gallons of ATSM quality biodiesel in Florida open ponds of just 1/8th of an acre. Company officials say they could get as much as 6,000 gallons per acre when fully cranked up:

A company spokesperson stated, “In the near-term we expect to demonstrate that the economics of this process can produce biodiesel that is price-competitive with fossil fuels.” A 50 acre pond is scheduled for completion in 2010.

And the article goes on to point out there are other places working on saltwater algae for biodiesel:

In a similar vein, Australian researchers just released a report stating that they have found that biodiesel production for saltwater algae can be competitive with the production of petroleum diesel. However, they also state that due to the cost of transporting biodiesel from an algal farm, the best scenario may be to locate an electricity generating plant in the same vicinity and simply convert the chemical energy into electricity. Creating such a powerplant would also make new jobs for local workers. (The analysis used an assumption of about 1,000 acres of ponds.)

In addition, a new technique in New York is reported to cut the cost of making algae-biodiesel by 40 percent. They’re using a ‘continuously flowing fixed-bed’ and uses a solid rather than liquid catalyst, which allows the flow of biodiesel to stay constant. Researcher Ben Wen says this is the first economical way to produce biodiesel from algae oil.

algae, Biodiesel