Friday, May 29, 2009

Cost viability and algae

GreenFuel has called it quits.  I haz a sad.

Posted by Heading Out on May 29, 2009

Robert Rapier recently drew attention to the demise of GreenFuel Technologies, the company founded on ideas from MIT and Harvard and supported by millions of dollars in venture capital funding. One of the creative ideas that the company has was to located their plant at existing power stations so that the carbon dioxide generated in the flue gas could be fed into the bio-reactors holding the algae, with the gas also keeping the algae at an optimal growing temperature. It was a company that was in the vanguard of promoting the use of algae in both carbon dioxide collection and liquid fuels production.

The company, however, ran into problems in raising more money in the current climate, and with the technology. According to to a recent news report:

Getting the whole thing to run smoothly, though, was tougher than expected. GreenFuel could grow algae. The problem was controlling it. In 2007, a project to grow algae in an Arizona greenhouse went awry when the algae grew faster than they could be harvested and died off. The company also found its system would cost more than twice its target.

It is that latter part of the paragraph that is the more telling. When folk first consider using algae as a future fuel source, it is often because, when tabulated, algae can produce more fuel per acre per year, than any other crop.

Source Biodiesel - Growing a New Energy Economy - Greg Paul, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2005, 281 pages

However, getting what has been achieved in the short term into a production mode that sustains the same yield for year after year is not that easy. Nor is simply finding the best algae the only solution required for the problem.

Given the collapse of GreenFuel, it is perhaps useful to look at some of the things that need to be considered, if you are going to have a shot at a viable algae operation. …

Cost Viability and Algae

Technorati Tags: ,

No comments: