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Chilean company farming algae for future production of bio-fuels

Tuesday, September 27th 2011 - 01:36 UTC
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Macro-algae is abundant all along the Chilean southern coastline (Photo: BAL Chile/FIS) Macro-algae is abundant all along the Chilean southern coastline (Photo: BAL Chile/FIS)

BAL Chile SA is dedicated to farming algae on the island of Chiloé and in a second stage, plans to produce bio-fuels for industrial use, announced the company’s CEO Benjamin González.

The enterprise in Chile is linked to BioArchitectureLab, a firm based in the US dedicated to releasing macro-algae potential in the most cost-effective and sustainable way possible.

“Within the next five years we expect to be producing at commercial scale,” said González according to Aqua. “At present, BAL is developing algae farming on the island of Chiloé and we are looking for alternatives to expand our testing in the north. There has been significant algae productivity improvements and cost reductions”.

In two years “the company expects to achieve the necessary production parameters for the commercial viability of the production of carbohydrates based on seaweed aquaculture farming,“ he added.

González explained that as macro-algae grow in the water, they do not have lignin, a compound in which plants tend to store sugars and that makes bio-disposition difficult.

”This, together with the enzymes produced by the microbes developed by BAL, makes entry easier and more economical to these sugars,“ he added.

BAL is also investigating the best practices and techniques in order to adapt them to optimize algae farming ”without interfering with any other business or uses of the sea”.

González said that in Chile, BAL established strategic alliances with DuPont and Statoil to carry out the initiative. It also has financial support from various private equity firms, such as X/Seed (Silicon Valley), Capital Austral (Chile), Energy Capital Management (Norway), the Department of Energy (US) and Innova Corfo (Chile). (FIS/MP).-

Tags: algae, Chile.

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  • GeoffWard2

    One of the key reasons why macroalgae are considered as feedstock for oil is their yields. DOE (Department of Energy, Gov of USA) has reported that algae yield 30 times more energy per acre than land crops such as soybeans, and some estimate even higher yields up to 15000 gallons per acre. Aside from keeping the earth clean and free from pollution, these algal biodiesel fuels help to utilize a resource that is available in abundance just waiting to be harnessed and exploited.

    In the process, the green crude is mixed with a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide and an alcohol such as methanol, resulting in biodiesel mixed with glycerol.
    The mixture is cleaned to remove the glycerol, a valuable by-product, leaving pure algal biodiesel fuel, which is similar to petrodiesel fuel.
    Although algal biodiesel and petro-diesel are similar, there are a few significant differences between their properties.

    As with the production and harvesting of any vegetation, the 'energy & nutrients in - energy & nutrients out' balance applies; there is environmental nutrient depletion and environmental change for many associated species.
    High levels of fertiliser application is needed to move the industry from extensive to intensive; this is not without cost.

    Sep 27th, 2011 - 01:30 pm 0
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