Monthly Archives: August 2012

City of Tulare, CA To Build Algae Jet Fuel Plant

The wastewater from Tulare County dairy operations may soon be used to power jets zooming overhead thanks to a brand new facility converting moist algae into biofuel.

Recently, the City of Tulare leased four acres next to its large wastewater treatment plant for the operation, which will use CO2 and other gases generated from the site’s adjacent fuel cells to grow the algae in large tubs of water.

The lipids, or oils, the algae produces as it grows can then be extracted and refined for use as a low emitting jet fuel.

The plant is the joint venture of Pacific Algae Oil consisting of the nonprofit association Algae International Group and Huntington Beach-based Pacific Oil Products.

According to Pacific Oil’s CEO David Gair, the facility is currently in a pilot-scale phase, with the capacity to produce around a half a million gallons of the fuel annually.

But given the right equipment and enough gases, he said, as much as 6 million gallons a year could be pumped out each year.

“I would like to give it 30 days before we get a commercial project underway,” said Gair, who started Pacific Oil Products in 2008 selling presses and other equipment to extract plant oils. “To use all our resources will take until the end of the year in order to get centrifuges, oil presses, ponds, green houses.”

A study last year by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that American-grown algae can produce 21 billion gallons of algal oil by 2022 consistent with the advanced biofuels goal set out by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

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Sapphire Energy: The Green Crude Farm

Sapphire Energy, Inc., one of the world leaders in algae-based green crude oil production, today announced the first phase of its Green Crude Farm, the world’s first commercial demonstration algae-to-energy facility, is now operational. Construction of this first phase, which began on June 1, 2011, was completed on time and on budget. When completed, the facility will produce 1.5 million gallons per year of crude oil and consist of approximately 300 acres of algae cultivation ponds and processing facilities. By reaching this key milestone, Sapphire Energy is on target to make algae-based Green Crude a viable alternative fuel solution capable of significantly reducing the nation’s need for foreign crude oil, which will serve as the blueprint for scalable algae biofuel facilities globally.

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My Big Stupid Failure in Algae Biofuels

OK, true story…

Saigon street scene

Back in the day I was a teacher in Vietnam. This was in 1995. For the most part in those days, Vietnam was a semi-closed society. Clinton had normalized relations but you would never know it. Most Vietnamese had never known an American. I know this sounds illogical, since Americans fought a war there, but for almost 20 years, the only “round eyes” were Russians.They weren’t too many people left in the 30-40 year old range. The country was like 70% under 20.

Of course, before I left, my family, my friends, all told me not to go. I would be kidnapped, I would be killed, etc. Ironically, it turned out, when people found out I was American they were thrilled. You see, the stories passed down were of the “good old days” and most Americans soldiers were known as kind and generous. The Vietnamese had many more good memories, than bad…at least in the South.

Anyhoo…fast forward 20 years and I’m in one of the most economically crippled countries in the world. Fuel was a big deal. Fuels powers everything, including lights, fans, and transportation. Sit inside a concrete box, with temperature over 100 degrees, and no AC, lights, or fans, and you’ll quickly understand what I mean. I literally sweated off close to 30 pounds.

We had constant power interruptions. Everyday. Sometimes lasting a few minutes, sometimes lasting hours, or days. “Brown out” is too kind of a word, and “black outs” doesn’t really fit either.

A Python who decided to make our open pond his home.

Maybe the powers-that-be took pity of me, but they went out and bought a generator. This worked for about a day…until they ran out of fuel. I knew I wasn’t going without a fan in my classroom.

I had always been interested in alternative fuels and I remembered from past studies that during World War I and II, they used vegetable oil for diesel.

We collected used vegetable oil from restaurants, and I do mean some really nasty stuff, dark, burned, filled with food chunks, I mean they used that stuff over and over. We used it and figured out how to make diesel fuel out it. The fans came back on.

First people were fine giving it to us, then they saw we were using it to make fuel, that it had value, and that whole idea went out the window.

Fast forward again to 2005. We needed another fuel source. Enter algae.

This is when I started experimenting with pond scum, and growing it in bioreactors.

It’s also when I made the stupidest mistake of my life.

We didn’t have any acrylic tubing, or anything fancy. In fact, we couldn’t have gotten a hold of any if our lives depended on it. We did everything by the seat of our pants, and local materials. One day I got the

There were still some old downed Huey's left back in the day.

brilliant idea of making a bio reactor out of bamboo. We had some BIG bamboo. (No, not the rolling paper kind, smart ass.) We saw no reason why it shouldn’t work and off we went to the shop and spent 100’s of hours trying to perfect something which would never, ever, work.

You see, we had a little problem of sunlight not penetrating the 3/8 inch bamboo walls. What an idiot.

Live and learn.

We did finally find a workable solution using, cheap, scrap material.

Now developing countries all over the world, as well almost 100 schools and universities are using the same principles to grow algae biofuels.

You can read about it here.


PS…If you want to hear more about my experiences in Vietnam in future editions of this newsletter, I have a 100 stories and about 1000 photos I can share. Let me know by leaving a comment below.

PPS…I’d also like to do a “Questions and Answers” Newsletter. If you have any burning questions you’d like answered about algae biofuels send them to me at dsieg (at)making-biodiesel-books (dot) com

PPPS…Also, the September discount is “Making Algae Biodiesel at Home.” You can save $15 off the regular price of the eBook and $29 off the paperback. FOR 4 DAYS ONLY, by using the discount code on checkout of “SEPTSALE“.(All caps)  Click here for details on this eBook.

Do You Want To Profit From The Recession?

There’s no doubt that many people, farmers, truckers, small businesses, greenhouse owners, are jumping on the “make money with algae” bandwagon. After all, why not? Anyone with a garage, a backyard, or a small piece of land can start making money with algae.

Algae “farms” are starting to pop up. Even a new word is being added to the professional lexicon-“Algaepreneur.”

An “algaepreneur” is someone who has decided to take the plunge and start making money with algae.

Consider this; a farmer in the US is lucky if he can get $600 (last year’s prices) per acre for corn. Is it any wonder when..

  • Diesel fuel is selling for $9.00 a gallon in Australia. At 3000 gallon per acre that’s $27,000 per acre
  • Omega 3 oils can fetch up to $6000 per metric ton
  • Organic fertilizer $230 per ton and 40 tons/year/acre = $9,200 per acre.
  • Algae animal feed: @$290 to 325/MT   40/tons/yr/acre = $11,600 to $13,000 per acre.

Granted, algae present challenges different than other crops, but the rewards will go to the early adopters, the one’s vision and the desire to succeed before the herd follows.

Take a look below at some of the pioneers

Algae Biofuels

Seaweed’s Promise for Algal Fuels

Seaweeds, a macro form of algae, hold great promise because of their potential for very high yields and high oil production while thriving on non-arable land. Another benefit is that they grow well in saline water. Traditionally crops will not excel in salt water and in some areas of the country valuable agricultural land has been taken out of production due to high concentrations of salt.

The result, Mitchell believes, will be a multi-trillion dollar industry that will disrupt the use of fossil fuels.

Health Food Products

Cellana, a leading developer of algae-based bioproducts, uses the most productive plants on earth – marine microalgae – to produce its ReNewTM line of Omega-3 EPA and DHA oils, animal feed, and biofuel feedstocks. Cellana’s patented ALDUOTM system enables economic, sustainable, and consistent production of photosynthetic algae at industrial scale.

Cellana intends to construct and operate commercial facilities to produce these products as integrated algae-based biorefineries.


Algae Cosmetics

Solazyme, a San Francisco-based algae fuel startup, is expanding its brand by bringing algae technology into the nutrition and cosmetics industries. This week, the company unveiled Algenist, an anti-aging skincare line that uses microalgae compounds as a main ingredient.

The idea for the Algenist skincare line came from Arthur Grossman, a Stanford University professor and microalgae expert. Soon after the company’s inception in 2004, the Solazyme team came to Grossman to find out what applications microalgae might have besides biofuel. His response: skincare, primarily because algae successfully protect themselves against the same harsh environmental conditions as humans.


Algae Bio Plastics

What are bioplastics?

A sustainable alternative to traditional plastics, bioplastics are plastics that are fully or partially biobased, and/or biodegradable or compostable. In other words, they are plastics that are made from renewable resources (plants like corn, tapioca, potatoes, sugar and algae), and they will break down faster than traditional plastics, which are typically made from petroleum, and other fossil resources such as natural gas.


Forward thinking algae entrepreneurs are already jumping on the bandwagon. Big money is flowing to algal research and development in some of the world’s largest industries.
Big oil, the major airlines, big pharmaceutical, big agriculture, even the military is pumping money into this humble organism unparalleled in any time in human history.

With good reason…

The “Algae Revolution” has begun.

PS…As you know, timing is everything in business. And as in this case, there’s no time to lose. So if you have any interest whatsoever, now is the time to take action. Before it slips your mind and before it’s too late.



Can Algae Biodiesel Really Benefit Mankind?

The subject has been a widely discussed topic among many environmentalists and conservationists in the hope of finding a way to reduce pollution and damage to the environment. We all want a greener, healthier world to live in.  And yet we have all fallen victim to the works of giant corporations who desire to have more profits at the expense of our delicate ecosystem. Fossil based fuels that are mined off the grounds deep beneath the surface of the Earth has created tremendous pollution in the air we breathe today. In the hope to create a better and more comfortable world, we have ended up with massive environmental damage which is caused by the burning of those fossil based fuels.

So how do we find a viable solution for this? Find an alternative energy source that is safer and more environmental friendly. The best solution at this point to end the world hunger for energy seems to be biodiesel.

How and where can biodiesel be created?

Biodiesel can be created from raw materials anywhere even right in you own home.  Yes, you can actually create your own fuel to use as energy without having to own an oil reserve to do it.  In fact, you can even use your own used cooking oil as the base material. This has created a relatively new industry where companies hunt for used cooking oils from restaurants and bakeries that uses deep fryer to cook. By buying up these used oil which would be discarded anyway, companies are making it to process biodiesel in large quantities which makes it a more cost effective way to produce these biodiesel.

The problem with used oil is these are not as easily used as those freshly squeezed oil. They need to be mixed and stored. Then you’ll need to dewater and filter it to remove the impurities. Finally it needs to be titrated before it can be processed into biodiesel.  Therefore if you are thinking about using used oil to create your own home based biodiesel, consider going for fresh sources if you are new to this.

So what do you do if you are looking for a more cost effective way to produce biodiesel right at your own home without having to purchase expensive oils to do it?  Try algae. Yes algae to biodiesel are the perfect solution to create your own home based biodiesel.

Algae to biodiesel is an amazing concept considering the ease of cultivation and the low cost of getting those algae. Algae is very easy to grow and can exist in places where there is only water sunlight and carbon dioxide.  If you don’t have a pond in your home, you can invest in those canvas style tanks that would let you cultivate your own algae to harvest every day. What you need is the right fools and the correct manual to help you create your own biodiesel from algae.

Getting to Know Algae Biodiesel

Algae biodiesel is normally processed from a type of algae that are found growing on the surface of ponds. Popularly known as the pond scum, these types of algae species is the most sought after to be used in making biodiesel from algae. These forms of algae to biodiesel fuel are highly viscous but nevertheless they would depend on the type of the algae being used to create the biodiesel fuel. The best thing about these forms of fuel is they are a marvelous form of renewable energy and does not produce and known toxic or harmful emissions that can harm the environment.

Algae biodiesel is created by a process referred to as transesterification. Basically it is a process that transforms vegetable and plant oils into biodiesel. Making algae biodiesel involves a chemical reaction between triglyceride molecules with complex fatty acids, getting rid of the glycerin and produces ester form alcohol. Now the ester is mixed with the oil pressed form these plant sources and left to settle. Once the glycerin is separated for the mix, you will have the biodiesel floating at the top of this mixture.

So What’s Stopping People from Using Algae as Biodiesel?

To make biodiesel from algae, one would need to have the right know-how plus the correct tools to do it right. Making algae from biodiesel isn’t as simple as getting juice out of oranges but it is not that complicated either. With the right knowledge, it is believed that algae from biodiesel are possible right out of your own home. Getting the strains of algae for biodiesel production is another challenge to conquer.  Additionally, it is very easy for other forms of algae to invade the space that is used for the cultivation of the algae for biodiesel is another factor to consider.

Considering the limited amount of land to use for cultivating enough algae for biodiesel production, scientists are looking at ways to utilize the open seas to cultivate algae biodiesel plant to be used in the production of biodiesel from algae.

Algae Biodiesel Research

There are plenty of research done and currently under progress for algae biodiesel. Scientists all over the world are actively conducting tests upon tests of the feasibility of using algae as biodiesel to replace the petroleum or gasoline in the near future. Similarly the cultivation of algae for biodiesel is growing sat an encouraging pace, propelled by the escalating cost of gasoline prices all over the world. Private companies too are quick to jump onto this opportunity and searching for the best and lowest possible cost of turning algae into biodiesel.

If you are enterprising and adventurous there are special DIY kits or instructional guides that could help you create your own algae biodiesel right in your own home. The best thing is you don’t have to invest in expensive biodiesel equipments to get it done right.  Just some simple stuff you can get from the local stores plus equipments that may already be present in your home, you can turn your own kitchen into a biodiesel DIY haven!

How to Overcome the Disadvantages of Biodiesel

There is a rising concern among Americans to find a more reliable and safer source of fuel to replace those we are using now which is made from fossil based fuels. This is caused by the growing concerns over the fast depleting supply of underground fuel and the rising prices of oil. Additionally most of these fuels are imported from foreign countries that have been subtly linked to supporting sporadic acts of terrorism worldwide.

To accommodate these challenges, there are a few solutions up there that may put an end to this rising concerns. We turn to other sources of alternative energy to reduce the dependence on fossil based fuel.  Yet how effective are these solutions? Are they practical and can they be implemented on a larger scale. The answer is yes and the most popular form of alternative energy around is bio fuels.  These are totally renewable sources of energy that can easily be replenished.  Let’s look at biodiesel a little close and how they can help alleviate our problem of fuel dependence.

Biodiesel are fuel made from biomass which would include oil from plant or animals including used oil or a combination of both. As much as we would like to believe that these green fuels would the problem we have will remove our dependence there are also some other issues that need to be considered as well.

  1. Shortage of Land

Growing crops that are specifically targeted for the biodiesel industry creates a shortage of land and resources that would otherwise be used to grow food.  This would add to the problem of world food shortage and exacerbates the problem. The best way to overcome this would be o use a more natural way to get those raw materials for making biodiesel. Algae biodiesel seems the perfect choice for this.  It can grow literally anywhere even on land which is unsuitable for growing other types of crops.

2. Energy to Grow Plants

Growing those plants for biodiesel purposes involves more than just panting those shrubs. You’ll need extra resources to care for them, apply fertilizer and finally harvest and process them. This is another actor that needs to be taken into consideration when conceding biodiesel as the fuel of the future. Again, algae colonies seem to be free from this issue. You can cultivate algae easily.  It just needs three things to survive and thrive-water, sunlight and carbon dioxide. It is the perfect solution to those who live in heavy industrial areas where there is excess of carbon dioxide o the air. Also these tiny plants grow well even in sewage area.  It can turn waste water into lipid that are high in oil and energy power.

  1. Limited Use

Biodiesel can only be used on cars and vehicles that run on diesel.  This makes it very limited.  Until everyone runs cars on biodiesel engine, the usage of these fuels can be strictly limited to hybrid cars or cars that are modified to allow for these fuels to run smoothly into the combustion chamber.  This solution would take a few years to implement, but we need to create a technology that would convert that biodiesel fuel into gasoline or to convert the existing engines to run on biodiesel.

65% of algae producers said they plan to expand capacity in 2012

A new survey of the algae industry conducted by the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) shows algae companies are increasing production in 2012, they expect to be price-competitive with petroleum fuels by 2020, and that stable and effective Federal policy would accelerate production and job creation.

The survey of more than 380 algae industry contacts shows a rapidly growing sector: 65 percent of algae producers said they plan to expand capacity in 2012 as they work to provide the U.S with new sources of sustainable, domestically produced fuels.

Respondents are optimistic that algae biofuels will be commercially available and competitive with fossil fuels by 2020, with 90 percent believing that it is at least somewhat likely, and nearly 70 percent believing it is moderately to extremely likely. Nearly 20 percent believe fuel will be $1.50 per gallon or lower while nearly 50 percent believe it will be less than $3.00 per gallon by 2020.

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Algae biodiesel company to produce biodiesel at $2/gallon at commercial scale

AFS BioOil announced that initial tests conducted by the company since startup of the system confirm that production costs of biodiesel will be in the range of $2 per gallon when produced in a commercial system of 1 millon gallons/yr and greater.

AFS BioOil was formed in 2010 as a spin out of Algae Floating Systems, Inc. The company is focused to use AFS technologies to produce traditional biodiesel via the transesterification of algae oil. The strategic goal of the company is to become a major algae biodiesel supplier.

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