Algae Production
Due to the relatively limited supply and high price of traditional biodiesel feedstock sources such as canola, palm, soy, corn and other oils, it is not surprising that algae has received considerable attention as a promising alternative fuel source. Feedstock contribute the majority of the cost to biofuel production, and in the case of existing sources, substantial markets already exist as foodstuffs and related products. Moreover, diverting these products to biofuel production in any substantial quantity will greatly impact the cost and availability of food, exacerbating existing shortages.

In contrast to these conventional feedstocks, algae offers many advantages; algae has been shown to produce up to 80x as much biofuel per unit area of land, requiring substantially less water, with much higher photosynthetic efficiency. This high efficiency photosynthetic system also consumes massive quantities of carbon dioxide, helping to offset the effects of atmospheric carbon loading. Algae can be produced on non-agricultural lands, limiting the impact on the world’s food supply. Algae has other advantages, many to be found in the non-fuel components, which can include high quality proteins suitable for use in animal feeds.

Inputs to the algae growth system mirror those of large scale agriculture – light, water, CO2 and trace nutrients. Indeed, much research has actually focused on developing methods to control algae growth rather than encouraging it.

Meaningful algae production however, has yet to be realized. Most research has focused on laboratory scale experiments, with limited emphasis on addressing the problems of scaling the technology from flasks and beakers to a production platform.

Focused on large scale deployment of algae technology from the outset, Pond Biofuels Inc. has developed an industrial approach to algae production; Pond Biofuels has designed, constructed, and is operating a large scale process validation facility, using CO2 derived from the St. Marys cement kiln to grow algae.