Loan Supports Separation-of-Oil-from-Algae Process

John Davis

A $1.5 million loan will help an algae company buy the equipment to build its system of separating the water from the green microbes. And that could be key in the algae-to-biodiesel process.

Biodiesel Magazine reports that Algaeventure Systems Inc. has picked up the money from the Ohio development department’s R&D investment loan fund to support the purchase of machinery and equipment to manufacture its algae dewatering systems, a $2.5 million project expected to create 200 new jobs:

According to David Coho, Algaeventure’s vice president of business development, his company has developed a solid-liquid separation technology that enables energy-efficient algae culture dewatering. “The challenge with microalgae is, how do you separate it?” he said. “It’s kind of like taking a glass of water and adding food coloring to it, and then trying to get the food coloring back out. That’s the challenge, because microalgae can be so incredibly small.”

Traditionally, the method used to dewater algae focuses on the use of centrifuge processes, Coho said. These high-energy centrifuge systems spin the entire water mass to try advancing and speeding up sedimentation. “That is extremely expensive,” he said. For example, Coho said studies have shown that taking a 10-micron-sized microalgae species at a concentration of 3 grams per liter of water can use up to $3,400 in energy to dewater it to 10 percent solids.

“Industry experts have said that you need to be less than $50 a ton in dewatering for algae to be viable,” he said. “We’ve developed a technology called micro-solid liquid separation. What we are able to do, without adding vacuum pressure, head pressure, or high energy spinning the water mass, is dewater that same species of algae in the that same concentration up to 20 percent solids with an energy cost of about $1.92. So, we are really shattering the barriers that have been found with dewatering technologies.”

Algaeventure officials say their technology works by leveraging the natural properties of water, not by using high vacuum or head pressure.

algae, Biodiesel, Government