Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Israeli Algae Presentation uses Wagner Soundtrack

Seambiotic earns a place in my algae watchlist (see left-side menu column) with its production of algae using emissions from a coal burning power plant. The algae turns the CO2 into vegetable oil which can be refined into fossil fuels for transportation and other purposes.

In an earlier post, we saw how Greenfuels is growing algae in emissions from a gas burning power plant. Greenfuels uses closed tubes to grow the algae while Seambiotic, at this plant, is using open-air ponds. Unchewable Center commented that the Greenfuels operation is using a lot of water in the Arizona desert, a process that may not be feasible on a large scale. Seambiotic is using water from the Mediterranean.

CORRECTION: I had stated, earlier today in this post, that algae was separated from oil in this process using a centrifuge. This is not the case, as Unchewable Center pointed out in the first comment. The centrifuge is used to separate algae from water when the algae is to be used as food supplement. They don't say how they separate oil from algae for use as fuel. This stage is not described in any description of any algae oil production process that I know of, so it remains a mystery to me.


Glenn Cassidy said...

Interesting, and not just because it's an Israeli company unbothered by Wagner's Aryan issues. While we're on an aesthetic note, the pumping brass is distracting while trying to concentrate on narration about pumping algae.

It sounds like the centrifuge is used to separate algae from water, not oil from algae. And that's just for the algae that's to be dried and used as a food supplement. All she says about their biofuel process is that it's different and doesn't use centrifuges.

What's most interesting to me is the claim that Seambiotic's process accelerates the algae growth rate by a factor of ten. I suspect that gain is partially attributable to other factors (processing, genetics, etc.) and not solely due to the CO2 infusion. But the faster growth rate is a necessary condition for economic justification of CO2 infusion.

Based on this limited information, it does seem to me that this method has more economic promise than Greenfuels' does, but we'll have to wait and see.

I hope the emission gases are scrubbed well. Mercury wouldn't make an appealing food supplement.

--Lisa S. said...

I will guess the oil is separated from the algae by means of solvent extraction....