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Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation Case Study

photo: Aquanomics Bionomics Corp.

Add another company to the growing list of candidates for the first company to make commercial-scale quantities of "green crude". New Zealand-based Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation has announced that it has produced its first samples of algae-based synthetic gasoline at a (undisclosed) commercially competitive price. There's not much available on the announcement on the company's website, but this is what we've got so far:
Algae Grown on Human Waste
Using wild algae grown on human sewage from Marlborough, New Zealand's sewage treatment ponds Aquaflow Bionomic says that its manufacturing process not only creates a green substitute for crude oil—the company says that it can be used not only to make fuel but also as a substitute for other products which require crude oil—but also creates water clean enough for irrigation or industrial use.

Aquaflow Bionomic's director Barrie Leay told The Marlborough Express , "This is an exciting development because we can separate fuels such as diesel and aviation fuels, as well as a range of high-value chemicals, from green crude."

Others Trying to Commercialize Green Crude
TreeHugger has covered companies making green crude a number of times, Sapphire Energy and Byogy most recently.

The main advantage of making a plant-based synthetic gasoline, rather than other biuofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel, is that it can be used in the existing fuel distribution stream and it current vehicles without modification.

via :: The Marlborough Express and :: New Zealand Herald
Green Crude, Algae Biofuels
New Algae Biofuel from Sapphire Energy "Chemically Identical to Gasoline"
First Commercial Algae-to-Biofuels Facility Goes Online
Solazyme: Millions of Gallons of Algae Biodiesel Within 3 Years
"Byolene": The 95-Octane Gasoline-Substitute Made Directly from Municipal Waste

Biodiesel From Algae: From 1978 to 1996, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory experimented with using algae as a biodiesel source in the “Aquatic Species Program”.

A recent paper from Michael Briggs, at the UNH Biodiesel Group, offers estimates for the realistic replacement of all vehicular fuel with biodiesel by utilizing algae that have a natural oil content greater than 50%, which Briggs suggests can be grown on algae ponds at waste water treatment plants. This oil-rich algae can then be extracted from the system and processed into biodiesel, with the dried remainder further reprocessed to create ethanol.

The production of algae to harvest oil for biodiesel has not yet been undertaken on a commercial scale, but feasibility studies have been conducted to arrive at the above yield estimate. Based on results from six years of tests run in parallel in California and Hawaii, 1,000 m2 pond systems were built and tested in Roswell, New Mexico. The Roswell, New Mexico tests proved that outdoor ponds could be run with extremely high efficiency of CO2 utilization. Careful control of pH and other physical conditions for introducing CO2 into the ponds allowed greater than 90% utilization of injected CO2.

Producing biodiesel from algae requires large amounts of CO2 for the algae to be able to photosynthesize. One such source of CO2 is coal fired power plants. Typical coal-fired power plants emit flue gas from their stacks containing up to 13% CO2. This high concentration of CO2 enhances transfer and uptake of CO2 in the ponds. The concept of coupling a coal-fired power plant with an algae farm provides an elegant approach to recycle of the CO2 from coal combustion into a usable liquid fuel.

The cost analyses for large-scale micro algae production evolved from rather superficial analyses in the 1970s to the much more detailed and sophisticated studies conducted during the 1980s. A major conclusion from these analyses is that there is little prospect for any alternatives to the open pond designs, given the low cost requirements associated with fuel production.

Video of Greenfuels Research Into Algae Biofuels

The factors that most influence cost are biological, and not engineering-related. On May 11, 2006 the Aqua flow Bionomic Corporation in Marlborough, New Zealand announced that it had produced its first sample of bio-diesel fuel made from algae found in sewage ponds. Unlike previous attempts, the algae was naturally grown in pond discharge from the Marlborough District Council’s sewage treatment works.

PetroSun, through their subsidiary Algae BioFuels is also looking into commercial biodiesel from algae. The good thing about biodiesel produced from algae is that it contains no sulphur, is non-toxic and highly biodegradable.

One of the biggest advantages of biodiesel compared to many other alternative transportation fuels is that it can be used in existing diesel engines, which relieves manufacturers of having to make costly engine modifications. Biodiesel can also be mixed, at any ratio, with conventional petroleum diesel. As a result, the alternative fuel can be used in the current distribution infrastructure, replacing petroleum diesel either wholly, or as a diesel fuel blend with minimal integration costs.


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