Biodiesel from Algae

December 14, 2009 06:00 PM

Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer Editor

Green Plains Renewable Energy's (GPRE) 50-million-gallon ethanol facility in Shenandoah, Iowa, recently unveiled a pilot project that will produce algae, which in turn could be used for biodiesel production.

GPRE has teamed up with BioProcessAlgae LLC to determine the scalability and functionality for future commercial deployment of the technology. Researchers will use carbon dioxide (CO2) from the plant's ethanol production to feed an algae-producing technology called Grower Harvester, developed by BioProcessAlgae.

"We are excited by the opportunities this technology offers to sequester the CO2 emitted at our ethanol plants,” says Todd Becker, president and CEO of GPRE. "Our plants have warm water, waste heat and CO2, which provide a perfect environment for the Grower Harvester technology to be deployed.”

The algae produced have the potential to be used for advanced biofuel production, high-quality animal feed or a biomass for energy production, Becker says. "But our focus at this point is solely on efficiently growing algae and sequestering the CO2,” he adds.

According to Becker, a 50-million-gallon ethanol plant using this technology could remove 70,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Adopting this algae process could help the ethanol plant achieve carbon neutrality, and it may even be possible for it to become carbon-negative.

You can email Jeanne Bernick at

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