By Bryan Sims
Chula Vista, Calif.-based research company Green Star Products Inc. acquired a license in late January to utilize a breakthrough processing technology that can convert algae oil and cellulose sugars into biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, respectively.
According to GSPI President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph LaStella, the process uses an efficient, low-cost method to extract the oil and cellulose sugars from oil-bearing microalgae. The novel technology also eliminates the need to mechanically dry and press-extract the algae oil. According to LaStella, approximately 80 percent of algae oil is comprised of carbohydrate-rich cellulose and hemicellulose that can be used to produce a variety of products, including biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. “GSPI, along with a handful of other high-tech companies, are leading the industry in algae commercialization,” he said. “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 oil extraction from the microscopic algae biomass.”
GSPI secured the technology license from Biotech Research Inc., which developed the patent-pending process that continuously strips oil from the algae and breaks down the biomass into carbon-chain carbohydrates, proteins and other components.
GSPI’s licensing of the technology followed a successful testing trial at its hybrid algae production facility in Butte, Mont. Data collected from the 10,500-gallon demonstration facility revealed that the algae not only survived, but also managed to grow in severe Montana winter conditions. According to LaStella, the testing method had never been attempted nor accomplished by any other research organization.
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