Sunday, August 29, 2010

Algae Tec Multi-product Algae & KiOR Catalytic Pyrolysis

Australian company Algae Tec utilises the McConchie-Stroud closed algal bioreactor system to produce multiple algal products -- including oils-to-biodiesel, carbohydrates-to-ethanol, proteins-to-animal-feed, and biomass-to-jet-fuel.
The photo-bioreactors which are at the heart of the McConchie-Stroud algae production technology are designed to generate four revenue streams:

oils which can be refined into biodiesel;
carbohydrates (sugars) that can be used in the production of ethanol;
proteins that can be used as feedstock for farm animals; and
protein and carbohydrate biomass that can be combined to produce jet fuel.
Algae.Tec is currently undertaking an Initial Public Offering by way of a prospectus dated 16 July 2010 with the intention to list on the ASX by the end of September 2010. The Company’s ASX code will be AEB.

The McConchie-Stroud System consists of a modular bioreactor and related infrastructure used for harvesting algae and refining into algae products. As commercial plants will ideally be built on the site of large scale CO2 emitting companies, such as coal-fired power stations, the number of modules on each site will be dependent upon the CO2 available. Sites of more than 1,000 modules may be feasible as the modules may be stacked 4 high, the company says in its offering prospectus.

Light for growing the microalgae is supplied through a novel solar collector located adjacent to or in close proximity to the process. Research and development to date has shown that high yields of algae can potentially be produced by the McConchie-Stroud System, and converted into various products (although at this stage, only on a small scale research basis). _GCC

KiOR is a Houston based developer of a catalytic pyrolysis process which claims to be able to turn wood into a "near-perfect" match for petroleum.
KiOR plans to take biomass—in this case wood chips from local timber that can be made into energy—and add a catalyst to chemically turn the chips into a near-perfect match to crude oil in a matter of seconds. The product, the company says, can go through existing crude refineries and be used to make standard gasoline or diesel fuel.

KiOR will get no subsidies or state support until it has formed a partnership with a major oil company to refine it. The first site will be built in Columbus, Mississippi and could open by the end of 2011.

In 2008, Petrobras, through its research center (Cenpes), signed a cooperation agreement with KiOR to use its Biomass Catalytic Cracking (BCC) process to produce second-generation biofuels from sugarcane waste. _GCC

It should be obvious that profitability for biomass-based processes depends almost entirely upon the ability to concentrate and densify the biomass close to the source of acquisition or harvesting, in an efficient and economic fashion -- due to the natural low energy density of native biomass.

That requirement for economy and efficiency of energy densification at the point of harvest and acquisition points to an obvious need for automated, robotic equipment of a portable, mobile nature, to both harvest and densify biomass on-site, for economical shipment for further pre-processing, processing, and refining.

In other words, the pivot point for profitability exists at the local level, and to a lesser degree at the regional level.

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