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Michael Smith of Algae Aqua-Culture Technology’s Green Power House™ is an environmental innovator of algae micro farming. His love for Montana’s natural surroundings combined with his software and engineering skills manifested a green biorefinery into a reality. The first of its kind 5,000 square-foot, eight-sided, three-story dome structure is located at F.H. Stoltz Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls, Montana. The concept behind the GPH™ is to generate power, but also to regenerate natural resources using carbon-negative technology.
"Imagine walking into a space filled with hanging gardens and diffused with dappled light, Eight shallow, wedge-shaped vats of algae comprise most of
the floor space in the main part of the building. "These algal raceway ponds are the photobioreactor," explained Smith, "the first of the three components of the
Green Power House that serves as essentially a biological solar cell."
"It's a closed-loop biorefinery," he said, "that is based on simple, longstanding, biological principals. It uses local algae, waste heat and wood waste to produce a unique and highly effective fertilizer that rejuvenates depleted soil."
A component of the “closed-loop” green network is eight algae raceway ponds that hold about 1500 gallons is what creates this algae microfarm. The algal channels produce energy-rich algae fueled by woody biomass – including wood waste from the mill, and also water, sunlight and carbon dioxide. Algae grow extremely fast and a pound of fresh algae can generate a 1,000 more btu’s than a pound of coal.
The harvested algae get pumped into photobioreactor tanks where it absorbs carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide generated from the Organic Carbon Engine™ (OCE).
The OCE also performs other functions. It gasifies wood chips and other wood waste using high heat to partially run the system, and then channels left-over energy to heat exchangers to regulate the photobioreactors and anaerobic bioreactor.
The algae then enter the second component, the anaerobic bioreactor which converts the algal biomass to methane and hydrogen gases, and algae ‘manure’ – a nutrient-rich concentrated substance. The gases produced can be converted into electricity and other forms of energy to power the mill.
The operation also generates a mix of biochar, the organic carbon created from pyrolysis of waste biomass and algae digestate which creates high-grade organic fertilizer and soil amendments.
Each AACT component utilizes a proprietary artificial intelligence system – Autonomic Networked Technology (ANT), and each integral part can work independently or together. These bioprocessors allow each component to adjust its performance imitating the workings of nature.
A half-acre of vertical algae micro farming to grow organic food could also be sustained in the atrium space of the greenhouse.
The greenhouse also generates methane, bio-oils, syngas and thermal energy that can be utilized to run the greenhouse and power electricity.
Water is also recaptured through pyrolysis and utilized on site.
Here are some interesting facts relating to Green Power House™ facilities:
Here are several species of algae worth considering for small scale production:
What Algae Aqua-Culture Technology and the GPH™ system has proven is that algae micro farming can function in all climates, create jobs, produce fuel, grow healthy soil and food for communities all over the world.
The "Algae Revolution" has begun