Friday, August 14, 2009

Taking Your Algal Oil Secondhand

Various algal oil projects are looking at feeding algae to other species -- such as fish or shrimp -- then extracting the oil from the higher animals, rather than directly from the algae. In a sense, they would be letting the animals extract the algal oil, thus perhaps making their own oil extractions easier.
San Carlos, Calif.-based LiveFuels is hoping to develop biofuels from algae—squeezing the liquid fuel out of fish by feeding them algae for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In fact, the fish eat more than one-third of their body weight in wet algae per day, filtering seven gallons per minute, CEO Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones said today.

The process doesn’t require electricity and has the potential to clean up ocean pollution.

While LiveFuels had previously described its business as pursuing oil extraction directly from the algae themselves, extracting it now from fish is a process the company has been exploring practically since it was founded, Morgenthaler-Jones said.

LiveFuels announced yesterday it has started a pilot facility in Brownsville, Texas. The facility—which includes 45 acres of open saltwater ponds on repurposed fish/shrimp farming land—is expected to be used to research optimizing algal productivity and increasing the rates of conversion of biomass into renewable oils.

The company had previously been operating on 150 acres in California, about an hour north of the Mexican border, but found that desert conditions weren’t optimal for growing algae. The Texas water also comes from shipping channels, so it is seawater Morgenthaler-Jones said. _Bioenergy
An interesting approach. The potential profits are certainly there. It comes down to the first alg-oil vender who can sell his product profitably. That company will be the proof of concept that should open the gates of investment to competitors even wider than at present.



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