Monday, October 04, 2010

Biomass King Can Grow over 70% of Planet's Surface

The king of biomass is not switchgrass, miscanthus, or even micro-algae. The king of biomass is macro-algae -- seaweed.

A key trend from the Algae 2020 study finds most macro-algae projects prior to 2010 focused on ethanol. However, since 2010, the entrance of oil and petrochemical majors Dupont and Statoil are expressing an increased interest in extracting sugars from seaweed to create drop-in fuels, biochemicals and other valuable co products such as biobutanol. This follows a key trend by Shell and BP investing $12 and $8 billion respectively in sugar-based conglomerates in Brazil to produce bio-butanol, drop-in fuels, and bio-based chemical products.

Emerging Markets Online’s updated Algae 2020 study finds the surging investments in extracting sugars from seaweed follows an emerging microbial “sugar to biofuels” trend in the Americas in Brazil for ethanol, biobutanol, and advanced biofuels. In September 2010, Bunge and Chevron invested in US-based Solazyme to create renewable algae-based oils. In addition, LS9, Amyris, and Virent aim to use plant-based sugars to produce drop-in fuels,  bio-based diesel, biobutanol, biogasoline, biochemicals and bioplastics.

Will sea-based sugars from macro-algae provide a new feedstock for advanced biofuels, drop in fuels and biochemicals for these emerging sugar-based, infrastructure compatible biofuels and chemicals platforms? Evidently, an increasing number of petrochemical majors including Dupont, Statoil, believe harvesting sugars from seaweed is attractive and are investing in next-generation,sea-based macroalgae projects as a feedstock for advanced biofuels, drop-in fuels, biochemicals, and biopolymers.


Emerging Trends in Macroalgae Investment

Project  and Partners Products Description
South Korea National Energy Ministry Ethanol Korea – $275 USD million project over 10 years to produce nearly 400 million gallons a year of ethanol by 2020, approximately 13% of S. Korea’s consumption. The project will create an offshore seaweed forest approximately 86,000 acres in size.
City of Venice JV with Port Authority and Electric Power Plant Algae Biofuel for Electric Power Italy – $200 million Euro project announced in March 2009 by the city of Venice to capture algae seaweed and generate 40 MW of power from algae biofuel to supply up to half of the city’s power supply and for to port facilities and docked ships in the harbor.  The project will also cultivate microalgae in closed photobioreactors to generate biomass for power generation.
Biomara / Scotland’s Ministry of Energy Algal Biofuels Scotland – $8 million USD from Scotland’s Energy Ministry and the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme, and Crown Estate in April 2009 to investigate seaweed and microalgae strains for commercial scale production.
Chilean Economic Development Corporation (CORFO) and Bio-Architecture Lab (BAL) Ethanol Chile – $7 million USD investment in 2010 in a seaweed-based bio-ethanol project lead by US-based BAL in collaboration with Chilean oil company ENAP and the Universidad de Los.  Project goal is to replace 5% of Chile’s gasoline consumption with 165 million litres of ethanol.
Philippines National Government, Korean Institute for Industrial Technology. Ethanol and biofuels Philippines – $5 million from the Philippines government to develop a 250 acre, seaweed-based ethanol plant and aquafarm cluster. The aquafarms will in 4 locations and will utilize a South Korean ethanol extraction technology developed at the Korean Institute for Industrial Technology.
Statoil and Bio-Architecture Lab (BAL) Ethanol and Co-Products (Lipids, Proteins, Iodine) Norway – starting in late 2010, Statoil will fund  BAL’s  R&D and demonstrations projects in Norway with the goal of commercialization of BAL’s technology in Norway and in Europe.  BAL will utilize its process technology will convert seaweed from Statoil’s aquafarming operations into ethanol and co-products in the partnership.
Dupont/BAL  (Bio-Architechture Lab) Biobutanol, Sugars for Advanced and Drop-In Fuels USA – $9 million US-based Advanced Research Projects Administration Energy  announced in Spring 2010 to fund a DuPont/BAL macroalgae project  aimed at supplying biobutanol  to be marketed by Butamax, the BP-DuPont JV
Sources: Algae 2020 study Vol . 2, Biofuels Digest, Emerging Markets Online,  industry journals
Rapid growing, with frequent harvests, and capable of thriving in salt water -- the most abundant form of water on the planet -- seaweed has the capacity to out-mass any other form of biomass-to-fuels, biomass-to-electricity, and biomass to chemicals.

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Blogger Carol said...

You seem to have missed the developments of the farmed macroalgae that can be grown in shallow lagoons (400 mm deep) and fed with waste carbon dioxide which can be farmed 8 to 10 times a year and produce 20 to 30 times as much biomass (dry matter) per hectare than the best terrestrial plant and thus out-srip the production of biofuels ethanol or propanol or butanol derived per hectare.

6:50 AM  

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