DeBeers Fuel is taking delivery of 90, biodiesel from algae reactors and is starting production n Naboomspruit, South Africa, according to the Energy Blog. The firm has signed an agreement with Greenstar Products for 90 reactors over 18 months and has taken delivery of the first, which was shipped from MIT in Cambridge Massachutsettes. DeBeers Fuel will be acting as Greenstar's master franchisee in South Africa for 90 sites located close to high level carbon dioxide emitters like power plants.
The 2-ton reactors will be built by Greenstar at its Glenns Ferry Facility in Idaho and delivered over the next 18 months. The first reactor was shipped November 8, 2006 by airfreight to South Africa.
Greenstar Products says its reactors can:
process raw materials into biodiesel in minutes, (versus one to two hours for the rest of the industry) will transform the De Beers plant into a State-of-the-Art Continuous Flow Process to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs.
Many people have high hopes for biodiesel from algae because they are fast growing, and to non-biologists like me, surprisingly algal oil yields are high. Up to 40% of the algae's weight. The great thing about algae is that there is no one strain that is better than the rest, so there should be plenty of competition.
The De Beers model will use algae developed at MIT, where the algae have been used to reduce emissions from the Institute's cogeneration plant. There are
thirty 3-meter-high triangles of clear pipe containing a mixture of algae and water. Bubbling the plant’s flue gases through the mixture has reduced CO2 emissions by 82 percent on sunny days and 50 percent on cloudy days (during daytime) and has cut nitrogen oxides by 85 percent (on a 24-hour basis).
One thing that worries me about the MIT process is that it takes several weeks to condition the algae to grow in the kind of carbon-dioxide-rich atmospheres found in flue gases. That looks like it could be a limiting step.