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Algae Biorefinery in Saudi Arabia

Algae Biorefinery in Saudi ArabiaYou know you might be on to something profitable in micro-farming when even the country with the largest oil reserves sees reasons to invest its dollars in algae infrastructure.

Even if you sit on top of the world’s largest deposits of petroleum, algae still has it’s advantages. Saudi Arabia is now jumping into building localized algae biorefineries.

In an article published today in Ecomena, the intended goal is to build a “Saudi Arabia Biorefinery from Algae” (SABA Project) to screen for lipid hyper-producers species in Saudi Arabia coastal waters.”

The article goes on to say “These species will be the basis for next-generation algal biofuel production. The goal of this project is to increase research and training in microalgae-based biofuel production as well algal biomass with an additional goal of using a biorefinery approach that could strongly enhance Saudi Arabia economy, society and environment within the next 10 years.”

Think about that for a minute.

If the Saudi’s are making a concentrated effort to find, build, and tap into the vast resources offered by algae bio refineries, what does this say to the rest of the world?

The primary Plan

The primary mission of the SABA project is to develop the Algae Based Biorefinery – According to their website” ABB biotechnology putting into operation innovative, sustainable, and commercially viable solutions for green chemistry, energy, bio-products, water conservation, and CO2 abatement. Microalgae are known sources of high-value biochemicals such as vitamins, carotenoids, pigments and anti-oxidants. Moreover, they can be feedstocks of bulk biochemicals like protein and carbohydrates that can be used in the manufacture of feed and food.”

The strategic plan

Is for SABA project is based on  already ongoing Research, Technology Development & Demonstration (RTD&D)  using of microalgae biomass production and downstream extraction in a unique way, e.g. together with biomass production with wastewater bioremediation or extracting different metabolites from the produced biomass (numerous fatty acids, proteins, bioactive compounds etc.). This approach including algal biology, genetic engineering and technologies for algae cultivation, harvesting, and intermediate and final products extraction is critical for the successful conversion of the developed technologies into profitable industries.

Why is this interesting?

A number of reasons. One, Saudi Arabia certainly isn’t lacking in petroleum resources. Yet, they still feel to need to be aggressively pursuing algae biofuels. Second, notice they are pursuing secondary products as ambitiously as biofuels. Third, if you click on the graphic, it will enlarge. Notice the scale of production. They are planning on having up to 5000 acres under production in the near future. They’re aren’t fooling around.

The Saudi’s are pouring money, research, and gearing up for massive production of algae biofuels as well as other related products and benefits. It makes you ponder what they know. One wonders if perhaps they have been overstating their oil reserves. Or are they simply preparing for the future…today?

The Algae Revolution Has Begun

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