Tag Archives: algae

[NEWS] Biomass Proposal Would Use Human and Animal Manure to Produce Biocrude Oil and Algae

– by Pam Eggmeier, January 24, 2017, SaukValley.com

algae-livescience

Photo: Livescience.com

City leaders gathered Tuesday to learn more about two possible business ventures – one that would be run by the city, and the other by a private company.

The Committee of the Whole heard presentations by Magellan, the city’s broadband consultant, and Green Vision International. The meetings give council members an opportunity to discuss particular issues at length, but no action is taken.

Green Vision International has been working with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois on a biomass recycling project that could be launched commercially in Rock Falls.

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[NEWS] Toxic Algal Blooms Tomorrow’s Biofuels?

– by Steve Brachmann, July 31, 2016, IP Watchdog

algae-bloom

Photo: Stephen Craven

The recent harmful algal bloom (HAB) coursing through four counties in the state of Florida is garnering a great deal of media attention, but it’s not the only bloom affecting U.S. waterways. In mid-July, state officials in Utah shut down public access to Utah Lake, a freshwater body just outside of Provo which was 90 percent covered with algal bloom at the time of the order. In the Great Lakes region, scientists expected a toxic bloom to occur once again this year in Lake Erie, although more moderate rainfall this spring should make the bloom smaller than in years past. The frequency of algal blooms in America could increase if the country’s climate becomes warmer and better remedies for agricultural runoff aren’t implemented.

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[NEWS] Dept. of Energy Announces $15 Million to Advance Algae Biofuels

– July 16, 2016, EIN Newsdesk

algae-pool

Photo: National Algae Association

The Energy Department today announced up to $15 million for three projects aimed at reducing the production costs of algae-based biofuels and bioproducts through improvements in algal biomass yields. These projects will develop highly productive algal cultivation systems and couple those systems with effective, energy-efficient, and low-cost harvest and processing technologies. This funding will advance the research and development of advanced biofuel technologies to speed the commercialization of renewable, domestically produced, and affordable fossil-fuel replacements.

The three projects selected, located in California and Florida, will include multi-disciplinary partners to coordinate improvements from algal strain advancements through pre-processing technologies (harvesting, dewatering, and downstream processing) to biofuel intermediate in order to reduce the production costs of algal biofuels and byproducts.

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[NEWS] Can We Save the Algae Biofuel Industry?

– May 9, 2016, The Conversation

algal-biofuel-workers

Photo: Jon Nazca / Reuters

Algal biofuels are in trouble. This alternative fuel source could help reduce overall carbon emissions without taking land from food production, like many crop-based biofuels do. But several major companies including Shell and ExxonMobil are seemingly abandoning their investments in this environmentally friendly fuel. So why has this promising technology failed to deliver, and what could be done to save it?

Algae are photosynthetic organisms related to plants that grow in water and produce energy from carbon dioxide and sunlight. Single-celled microalgae can be used to produce large amounts of fat, which can be converted into biodiesel, the most common form of biofuel. There are many possible ingredients for making biofuels, from corn to used cooking oil. But algae are particularly interesting because they can be grown rapidly and produce large amounts of fuel relative to the resources used to grow them (high productivity).

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[NEWS] Is Jet Biofuel Feasible?

– by Brad Plumer, May 6, 2016, Vox

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Photo: Alain Jocard

When I called Schäfer to chat about his paper, he pointed out that biofuels represent a big chunk of the reductions in the most optimistic decarbonization scenario. But, he cautioned, it’s still not certain that low-carbon biofuels will actually materialize in such large quantities.

Ideally, we’d want biofuels that produce far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than jet fuel does and don’t conflict with food supplies the way corn-based ethanol does. So companies like Boeing and Airbus are looking into making fuel from cellulosic biomass (i.e., grasses or the inedible parts of plants) or algae. They’ve even flown a few planes on experimental jet fuel made from these green sources.

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Biofuel or Biofraud? The Vast Taxpayer Cost of Failed Cellulosic and Algal Biofuels

– by Almuth Ernsting, March 14, 2016, Independent Science News

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Photo: Independent Science News

Biofuels consumed today are usually ethanol made from the sugar in sugar cane (or sugar beet) or they may be made from starch in grains. In the US this is mostly corn starch. Alternatively, biodiesel may be made from plant oils such as soybean or canola oil.

Cellulosic biofuels, on the other hand, are biofuels made from crop residues (e.g. corn stover), wood, or whole plants, especially grasses (e.g. switchgrass). Cellulosic biofuels include cellulosic ethanol (made by isolating, breaking down and then fermenting the complex sugars in the cell walls of plants), as well as ‘drop in biofuels’. These biofuels are chemically almost identical to fossil-fuel based kerosene, diesel or gasoline.

In November 2014, cellulosic biofuel company KiOR filed for bankruptcy, having shut down their refinery in Columbus, Mississippi earlier that year. There have been many unsuccessful biofuel ventures of this type, but KiOR’s stands out for four reasons:

1) They had sold the first-ever cellulosic biofuels made in a commercial-scale facility in the US and produced the first cellulosic gasoline ever accredited as such by the US Enviornmental Protection Agency (EPA);

2) They were the highest valued ‘advanced’ biofuel company backed by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his company, Khosla Ventures, having been valued at over $1.5 billion when they launched on the stock market. Khosla has been one of the most influential advocates of cellulosic biofuels in the US. Back in 2010, the EPA set a target for cellulosic ethanol, that relied almost entirely on Khosla’s promises about what another company he’d invested in – Cello Energy – could deliver. Cello Energy filed for bankruptcy that same year, after they had been found guilty of fraud;

3) KiOR had obtained a $75 million loan from the State of Mississippi of which they had repaid just $6 million by the time they filed for bankruptcy. The Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has described this as “one of the largest frauds ever perpetrated on the State of Mississippi.” He has initiated a fraud suit against former KiOR executives as well as against Vinod Khosla, alleging that they misled investors about the quantities and yields of biofuels they could achieve. A separate class suit has been raised on behalf of shareholders who claim to have incurred financial losses because they bought shares as a result of misleading claims by KiOR executives and Vinod Khosla about the company’s achievements and capabilities.

4) As a result of the bankruptcy proceedings and the fraud suits, information about what went wrong are entering the public domain.

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