This article looks pretty exciting, especially the yields they saw at
the pilot facility.
PetroSun algae farm to begin operation April 1
By Jerry W. Kram
The nation’s first commercial-scale, open-pond algae farm to produce oil
as a biodiesel feedstock will begin operating near South Padre Island,
Texas, on April 1. PetroSun Biofuels Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of
PetroSun Inc., will operate the farm, which is located on the site of a
former shrimp farm, according to Jim LeCrone, chief operating officer of
The facility currently has 94 five-acre ponds and 63 10-acre ponds
totaling 1,100 acres of growing space on the 1,831-acre site. “The farm
will give us a step into immediate large-scale production and extraction
of the algal oil,” LeCrone said. “This is a quick start because the
ponds are there and ready to go. This will be like a giant pilot plant
for us, showing us how to do this on a much larger scale.” The open-pond
system will use salt water, which implies a marine species of algae, but
LeCrone wouldn’t confirm that.
The site has preexisting ponds, offices, labs and a building, which will
allow the company to get the site up and running quickly. “If you go out
and try to develop a farm, the first and foremost thing is the cost of
the land,” LeCrone said. “You want to go where the land is cheap and you
won’t be messing up the environment. The nice thing about this setup is
that the land is there, and it has already been developed. We won’t have
that learning curve to go through, and permitting will be easier. It
makes the whole process much easier, so we can get started.” If the
algae farm is successful, there are surrounding areas available for
PetroSun Biofuels is moving rapidly to create a widespread network of
algae farms around the world, forming subsidiaries in Mexico, Brazil and
Australia. It has also announced plans to build additional farms in
several U.S. states. The company has entered a joint venture with
Optimum Biofuels LLC to develop a biorefinery in Arizona and has
purchased a 50 percent interest in Fleet Biodiesel Inc., which is
acquiring an existing biodiesel facility in Bridgeport, Ala. Some of the
algae oil produced in Texas may go to the Alabama facility. “They are
using a different type of feedstock right now, but [in the] long term,
that is a possibility,” LeCrone said. “We are building a facility in
Coolidge, Ariz., and that will also be a customer. We are also talking
with potential customers in Louisiana.”
LeCrone said tests conducted at the PetroSun Biofuels pilot algae farm
in Opelika, Ala., showed oil production between 5,000 and 8,000 gallons
per acre per year. He said challenges with extracting the algae from the
water and the oil from the algae were overcome at the pilot facility.
“All of the technology was developed at Opelika over the last year,” he
said. “We have a process that is totally different than what anyone else
has been doing. We can’t divulge what that process is, but we don’t have
a problem with any of those things.” After extraction, the residual
algae biomass can be made into ethanol or other products.
After the oil is extracted on-site using a proprietary process, it will
be shipped to company-owned or joint-venture biodiesel production
facilities. “We can ship by land, sea or rail, so this site is pretty
nice that way,” he said.
PetroSun will conduct jet fuel and bioplastics research and development
projects supported by the supply of oil from the operation.
An aerial view of the algae farm can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2clmzc.
Source: Biodiesel Magazine-
Company links: http://www.optimumbiofuels.com/