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lunes, 27 de febrero de 2017

Global Algae Innovations and its Kauai farm – Low cost algae production technologies for food and fuel





THE COMPANY

The island of Kauai (Hawaii) is the home of one of the largest algae biofuel production facilities in the United States. The Kauai Algae Farm is owned by Global Algae Innovations, a company which designs innovative technology to make algae production more efficient and consistent. Its vision involves harnessing the unparalleled productivity of algae to provide food and fuel for the world, dramatically improving the environment, economy and quality of life for all people. Focused on this vision, the company is revolutionizing the algae industry and becoming a leader in low cost algae production technologies.

Global Algae Innovations was founded by David Hazlebeck, a proven leader and innovator in the algae industry. He has over 32 years of experience in chemical and biological R&D from laboratory-scale through piloting and commercial implementation. For the past ten years, he has focused on large-scale, innovative photosynthetic algae cultivation, harvesting and processing technologies. During this time he led an algal-derived jet fuel project in collaboration with 28 companies and universities. The project culminated in the construction and operation of the algae farm at Kauai.

Figure 1. Aerial photograph of the Kauai Algae Farm (extracted from Reference 2)

Global Algae Innovations has conducted its work with the support of different US Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) funding awards to develop advances to ramp up the rate of algae production. In 2013, the company was part of a program to demonstrate improvements in oil yield, and since then, it has surpassed its goals by greatly improving algae productivity. Those are other recent awards:
- 9th July 2015 – $1 million to increase algal biomass yield by deploying an innovative system to absorb carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a nearby power plant (see press release).
- 14th July 2016 – A grant to accelerate the commercialization of algal biofuels through development of an integrated, photosynthetic, open raceway pond system to produce algal oil (see press release).
- 28th December 2016 – Program: “Project Definition for Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower”. $1.2 million to design a pilot-scale algae biofuel facility with improved productivity of open pond cultivation and more energy-efficient algae harvest (see press release).

Also, Global Algae Innovations is committed to changing people’s lives through charitable work and life-enriching experiences.  In fact, it established a nonprofit organization in 2014 called Stepping Forward International (SFI).  The charity's mission is to provide compassion, inspiration and support to people and communities around the globe.

THE TECHNOLOGIES AND THE FARM

Global Algae Innovations is developing a broad array of advances spanning the entire algae production process:
Cultivation
Typical raceway ponds use paddle wheels for mixing purposes in order for the algae to receive adequate sunlight and nutrients. Global Algae Innovations’ raceway ponds use a sloped design that eliminates the need for a paddle wheel. This lowers energy use and increases algae growth, which reduces costs to construct and operate the facility.
CO2 delivery system
Global Algae Innovations has invented a flue gas delivery system to transport and supply the carbon dioxide from the smoke stacks of the coal-fired power plant to the algae. The algae of its open raceway facility are fed exclusively with carbon dioxide from power plant flue gas.
Harvest
Zobi Harvester™ is an advanced harvesting platform that produces crystal clear permeate (10 times lower turbidity than US drinking water standards) and a 15-20% algae concentrate. This algae harvesting system uses membranes to eliminate the need for secondary dewatering. Operation has been validated for many classes of algae including diatoms, green algae, cyanobacteria and red algae.  The automated system is easy to operate and algae are harvested at ambient pressure without exposure to high centrifugal forces or shear.  It is available in sizes from 5 gpm to 200,000 gpm (0.40 l/s to 15,150 l/s).


Those advances are being demonstrated at one of world’s largest open pond raceways. The biggest one covers an area of 2 acres (almost 1 ha). There, it has implemented over 30 innovations at large-scale and has over 70 more on its current development map. According to the company, some of the advances achieve orders of magnitude improvements over conventional technology:
- Raceway Design: 2x higher productivity.
- Harvest and dewatering: 30x reduction in energy use.
- CO2 supply: 15x cost reduction, 70x reduction in energy use, 15x increase in capture efficiency.
- Drying: 10x reduction in energy use.
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REFERENCES
1 www.globalgae.com (accessed on 24th February 2017).
2 EERE Success Story—Algae Hard at Work in Hawaii (accessed on 25th February 2017).

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