December 20, 2011

Algae biofuel pilot plant construction starts

The Biotechnology Consortium (Bal Biofuels) began the construction of the Experimental Centre of Algae (CEA) in Puerto Montt Campus of the University of Los Lagos. The plant is expected to be operational from August next year.

The proponents of the initiative plan to develop technology to produce advanced biofuels and high added value chemicals with low emissions of carbon dioxide and low cost, using native giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) farmed in a sustainable manner.

The ceremony of initiation of the pilot plant works was attended by the University Chancellor, Óscar Garrido; the director of the Regional Management of the Production Development Corporation (Corfo), Claudia Huber; the co-founder of the firm Bio Architecture Lab, Yuki Kashiyama; university officials; academics; students and BAL Chile executives.

The idea is to generate raw material (algae culture) in 2012 and then to produce advanced biofuels or renewable chemicals in the 600-square-metre pilot plant to be built in the region of Los Lagos.

"The University of Los Lagos is committed to offering support in a strategic public-private alliance that aims to be a significant contribution to the region. This is an investment and we expect the return of this investment will allow us to activate the aquaculture sector, generate employment and ultimately become a development pole," said Garrido.

Meanwhile, Yuki Kashiyama, co-founder of the firm Bio Architecture Lab, highlighted the "excellent conditions" of Chile for farming algae and expressed confidence that this activity "will benefit the country because it will create jobs and economic development."

The University of Los Lagos, through its Centre i~mar, manages the technology to successfully develop algae farming at a commercial level.

Meanwhile, BAL Chile SA provides the administrative management and the project general coordination and Bio Architecture Lab developed and patented the microbial system capable of producing low-cost biofuels from brown marine macroalgae, El Repuertero reported.

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