Australian algae facility passes environmental permitting process
Algae.Tec, an algae-to-fuels developer from Australia, has three years to prove out its enclosed modular algae growing systems after the Shoalhaven City Council of Australia approved the necessary permitting to Algae.Tec. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act will give Algae.Tec the go-ahead to build a demonstration facility called Shoalhaven One near the Manildra Group’s ethanol facility south of Sydney. The permit is effective immediately, and after three years, Algae.Tec will have the option of expansion. The site near the ethanol facility will capture CO2 from the ethanol plant’s fermentors for use as a growth medium to feed the enclosed growth systems developed and constructed by Algae.Tec in an 18,200 square foot facility in Atlanta.
Roger Stroud, executive chairman for Algae.Tec, said that the system is one of the only advanced biofuels production approaches that utilizes such a system, and according to the company, the system “is less than one tenth the land footprint of pond growth options, while its enclosed module system is designed to produce algae biomass in virtually any environment on the planet.”
The permitting granted by Shoalhaven now means that the company can continue on its vision to supply the enclosed systems to places like China, or build a commercial facility in Perth. Each enclosed photobioreactor is housed in a used freight car optimized to house the system. The price for each unit is roughly $125,000. The demonstration facility will use the units built in Atlanta to test various industrial CO2 off-gases from the ethanol facility in addition to the ethanol fermentors, all according to Stroud, to help Algae.Tec test and verify the use of multiple input gas streams into the system.
The container systems utilize the CO2 piped into each container, as well as rotating parabolic light collectors that feed the captured light into a fiber optic system to help the algae grow in ideal conditions. Each module can produce roughly 250 dry tons of algae per year, and for a grouping of 500 units linked together, Peter Hatfull, managing director for the company, said that the cost would equal roughly $64 million. Stroud said that the fuel (biodiesel) produced from the algae grown near the Manildra site will be used by the armed forces.