Ebony and Ivory: The BioProcess Algae Story
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) …But carbon dioxide emissions remain. In fact, large corn ethanol plants are considered “major emitters” under EPA rules because one-third of the corn kernel, by weight, is released as carbon dioxide during fermentation. About 19 pounds of it per bushel.
To the EPA, an emission. To Green Plains Renewable Energy, an opportunity. Why not capture the emissions, feed CO2 to algae, and turn a problem into a profit center?
Thus was a partnership born with BioProcess Algae. Ebony and ivory – white biotechnology and carbon remediation – working together in harmony. It’s a powerful vision.
…It’s hybrid design – a semi-closed system, using some elements of greenhouse design to protect and warm the algae, but using the some of the best, low-cost aspects of raceway-style, open pond design. That gives it a cost structure and a system that works in the temperate climates where staple grains generally grow — makes it possible to put the plant next to the CO2 source and share inrastructure.
Next steps for BioProcess Algae and Green Plains Next steps? Following completion of the 5-acre demonstration, the company will proceed to full-commercial scale. And that can be substantial. A 100 million gallon corn ethanol plant produces enough CO2 to support 140,000 tons of algae production. Even at 60 tons per acre per year (as Cellana has generated at its 6-acre facility), that’s up to 2300 acres of algae production from a single site – almost 4 square miles. Possible? Depends entirely on site characteristics. But you get the idea.
What’s the real impact of the marriage of algae and corn ethanol? Irrespective of technology, these are projects that monetize CO2. That’s their fundamental magic, liberating value from a waste stream.
… To date, Page County has been best-known nationally as the birthplace of the 4-H Clubs, where the long-time mottos are “to make the best, better” and to ” learn to do by doing”. Their pledge is one every bioenergy pioneer might note: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world!”
It may well be that, in the future, we’ll look back at projects like the Shenandoah ethanol plant and see in them a pretty good conversion of pledging into action, and at industrial scale. READ MORE