Today, Green Star Products, Inc., announced that it has acquired a license to utilize a breakthrough processing technology to convert algae biomass to feedstock oil and cellulose sugars for the production of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol respectively.
The new process uses an efficient low-cost method to extract the oil and cellulose sugars from oil-bearing microalgae that eliminates the need to mechanically dry and press-extract the algae oil using traditional methods. The sugars from carbohydrate-rich cellulose and hemicellulose can be used to make a variety of products including ethanol and other high demand chemical products. The oil can be made into biodiesel and other products.
The removal of oil from the microscopic algae has been a stumbling block for the commercial production of fuel from algae for many years.
GSPI has secured the technology license from Biotech Research, Inc. (BTR), one of GSPI’s consortium partners. The process continuously strips the oil from the algae and also reduces its biomass into different carbon chain carbohydrates, proteins and other constituents. BTR’s intellectual property is protected by patent pending status.
Joseph LaStella, president of Green Star, stated, "GSPI along with a handful of other high tech companies are leading the industry in algae commercialization; however, there are two major hurdles to overcome: First, an efficient, affordable construction and processing method to control the environment to promote optimum algae growth; Second, efficient harvesting and extraction of oil from the microscopic algae biomass".
Green Star, along with Biotech Research, has been operating one of the largest demonstration algae facilities since April 2007. Phase I and II testing were successfully completed in 2007. The results of Phase III have been completed and announced today (January 31, 2008) under a separate Green Star press release titled “GSPI Completes Algae to Biodiesel Winter Demo Testing”.
The Montana facility has clearly demonstrated a solution to the first problem, i.e. an affordable method to grow algae, and now GSPI has potentially solved the second hurdle – the low-cost extraction and conversion of microalgae biomass to oil and other useful products.
Biotech Research, Inc. operates a high tech research facility at the University of Baja California in Ensenada, Mexico (see four-minute video at GreenStarUSA.com), where a team of scientists and engineers are studying short, medium and long-term technologies for the advancement of algae production.
Mr. LaStella further stated, “To limit algae research to the production of fuels is a grossly short-sighted view point. Algae have the answer to many of the global problems facing us today. Our old microalgae friends have been around for three billion years and were responsible for creating the oxygen atmosphere we now breathe. Algae grow as much as 100 times faster than agricultural crops, so algae could potentially solve all of our food and environmental problems”.
Algae can reverse our Global Warming problems; provide unlimited biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol; provide high protein food for the World's increasing population; be used as feedstock for an unlimited number of industry products and chemicals; and, the list goes on.
Biotech Research, Inc. is researching a host of algae uses. Some of these ‘uses’ can be a bit surprising. For instance, Solazyme, Inc., recently announced an algae joint venture with Chevron (US:CVX) and a breakthrough using an algae strain that can reproduce itself without sunlight.
Biotech Research is also involved in "algae that grows in the dark"; however, it is not BTR’s top priority research project for the following reasons:
- Algae that grow without sunlight do not use the photosynthesis process; therefore, dark-growing algae need expensive food sources like sugars, vitamins, etc. to survive and reproduce. This means that they are not obtaining energy from sunlight and they are actually not consuming CO2 but producing CO2 like any other animal or burning process. CO2 mitigation is not possible with these algae strains. The need to increase photosynthetic processes for CO2 sequestration is a major reason why there is interest in algae farm development (see press release titled "Green Star States: U.S. Industry Gets Serious About Cutting CO2 Emissions" from December 20, 2007).
- Since "grow in the dark" algae do not use the (free) energy from the sun they must get their energy from something else, mainly sugars that are poured directly into the growing algae medium. Where is all this sugar going to come from? Back to agricultural crops?
Biotech Research has the real answer: Making oil and sugars from photosynthesis grown microalgae biomass and non-food biomass that can be derived from a variety of agricultural and municipal waste streams (wood chips, corn cobs, switch-grass, etc.).
Mr. LaStella further stated, “It should be understood that the success of this new process is not required for the first generation of algae production. First generation algae production can produce 4,000 gallons of oil per acre per year (versus 50 to 100 gallons for other oil crops) and later generations will produce 10,000 gallons or more per acre.”
Green Star Products and Biotech Research are also researching independently, and in coordination with other technology companies, additional high tech processing systems to convert biomass algae into usable fuels and products. These products and systems include:
- Direct pyrolysis
- Advanced mechanical extraction
- Separation of sugar from biomass carbohydrate chains
- Hybrid fuels
- Low temperature fuels
- Enzyme extraction
- Algae strain development
- Highly efficient LED artificial light production
- Natural algae growing enhancers
… And many other proprietary technologies.
Today, algae and non-food biomass technologies are the most likely tools to change our world on a grand scale.
Mr. LaStella further commented that, "The U.S. Congress recently (Dec. 19, 2007) passed a huge energy bill into law, which contains billions of dollars to support the production of ethanol from non-food sources (cellulosic ethanol). GSPI’s new licensed process combines feedstock algae production into biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, which qualifies our new process for financial support under the new energy bill."
Please also read GSPI’s other press release issued today (January 31, 2008) titled “GSPI Completes Algae to Biodiesel Winter Demo Testing”.