December 3, 2011

Algae grower awarded for innovation

It grows at a phenomenal rate, can be harvested daily and can be turned into almost anything from fuel to food to medicine.

It's algae, and a company which has invested in producing it from carbon emissions has been awarded a major industry prize for innovation.

MBD Energy Ltd has been awarded the NAB Agribusiness Award for Innovation in New and Emerging Industries for developing a system using carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations to grow algae.

Managing director Andrew Lawson says the CO2 is pumped from exhaust chimneys at the station to ponds, where it feeds the algae, pushing them to produce enough biomass for it to be harvested almost daily.

"The algae double their weight every one to two days; they need lots and lots of carbon and nitrogen and other elements that are in the flue gas," he said.

"About 98-99 per cent of their food comes from the flue gas and the remainder comes from the water they're growing in."

Meanwhile, an international algae company says Australia is leading the world in the deployment of algae technology.

OriginOil, which has links to MDB Energy, is working on a method of extracting fuel oil from algae at a facility in the USA.

CEO Riggs Ekleberry says algae projects and companies in Australia are far ahead of other countries.

"For example, Aurora Algae, which is actually based in San Francisco, actually has a major rollout going on in Karratha, Australia. So what's happening is that America seems to be where a lot of technology gets developed."

Original article available here.

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