Thursday, March 11, 2010

Short term Power Generation Industry action--What Technologies are up and Coming

With the first Nuclear plants coming online in 2016/2017 and major construction, startup and testing in 2013/2014 what will we focus on in the next three years? 

Perhaps we will put our money on Advanced Biofuels and Carbon Capture Technology (CCT) or carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) technologies.

Lets take a deeper look:

Algae Biofuel

Algae Bioreactor from: shown in pic on right is a lab scale photo bioreactor.

DOE initiative-July 2009
Department of Energy (DOE) announced that they would offer up to $85 million in funding for the development of algae-based biofuels and advanced, infrastructure-compatible biofuels. The funding comes as part of the funds released from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The goal of the monies is to bring together a group of leading algae and advanced biofuels scientists and engineers from both universities and private industry in an attempt to bring new technologies and fuels to market in an accelerated time frame.

The trick is getting CO2 and light to a bioreactor and then control the growth and harvest the algae and protein.  Some are using light tubes others natural light.  CO2 can be harvested from smokestacks.  Some (Old Dominion University) are using sewage for growth media.

How an algae bioreactor works:

CO2-rich gas streams are introduced to the bioreactor, in which algae are suspended in a media with nutrients added to optimize the growth rate. A portion of the media is withdrawn continuously from the bioreactor and sent to dewatering to harvest the algae. The dewatering operation uses two stages of conventional processing. Primary dewatering increases the algae concentration by a factor of 10-30. Secondary dewatering further increases the algal solids concentration to yield a cake suitable for downstream processing. Water removed from the dewatering steps is returned to the bioreactor, with a small purge stream to prevent precipitation of salts. Make-up water is added to maintain the media volume. A blower pulls the flue gas through the bioreactor. Using an induced draft fan provides several operating advantages, including ensuring minimal disruption to power plant operations, simplifying retrofits to existing facilities.
The “downstream” unit operations for algal oil extraction and conversion of the dewatered algae into final fuel products, in contrast to the ”upstream” unit operations, are conventional technologies currently practiced on a large scale, e.g. biodiesel is currently produced from vegetable oils via transesterification (several algae species have lipids, starch, and protein compositions similar to soy and canola beans). Consequently the same facilities can be adapted to produce biodiesel from algae and conventional agricultural feeds. Some downstream processing options are listed below:
Final Product Primary Processing Steps
Biodiesel Extraction and transesterification
Ethanol Fermentation
Methane Anaerobic digestion
Hydrogen, synthesis gas Gasification
Solid biomass Drying


Work at KU

University of Kansas November 2009
The Lawrence (KS) Journal-World & News reports University of Kansas scientists are working on one of just a few in the world functioning, pilot-scale bioreactors connected to a municipal wastewater treatment plant, where they’re turning sewer waste into the green fuel:
“From the point of view of the EPA, this should be like heaven,” said Val Smith, a KU professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “We’re harnessing a waste, making it do work for America, and purifying it all at the same time.
“It’s like a win-win-win-win-win.”
The KU effort is being financed by the university’s Transportation Research Institute, using money from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Bob Honea, the institute’s director, is confident that the work of KU researchers — collaborating on a “Feedstock to Tailpipe” program that includes a wide variety of biofuel efforts — is on the right track. Gasoline prices eventually will return to $4 a gallon or more, he said, and the world will continue to seek ways to lessen a reliance on petroleum.
Using algae to make biodiesel simply makes sense, Honea said, given the aquatic organisms’ built-in advantages compared with traditional crops: higher yields on less land.
KU officials believe they are the verge of a major breakthrough.

Active BioAlgae company- Sapphire Energy
 Sapphire has already developed breakthrough technology to produce fungible, drop-in transportation fuels—including 91 octane gasoline, 89 cetane diesel, and jet fuel—all out of algae, sunlight, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Or, what we like to call Green Crude.

In 2008, Sapphire successfully produced 91-octane gasoline from algae that fully conforms to ASTM certification standards. In 2009, we participated in a test flight using algae-based jet fuel in a Boeing 737-800 twin-engine aircraft. That same year, we provided the fuel for the world’s first cross-country tour of a gasoline vehicle powered with a complete drop-in replacement fuel containing a mixture of hydrocarbons refined directly from algae-based Green Crude. In 2010, we will break ground for our Integrated Algal Bio-Refinery in Southern New Mexico, a project that was awarded more than $100 million in federal grant money from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act through the U.S. Department of Energy and a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bio-refinery Assistance Program.

Advanced Biofuels (Biomass) 

BP Initiatives

In April 2008, we acquired a 50% stake in Tropical BioEnergia SA, a joint venture with Santelisa Vale and Maeda Group, to produce bioethanol from sugarcane, the most efficient and lowest-carbon biofuel available today. Tropical’s first facility in Edéia, Goias State, Brazil, began production of bioethanol in September 2008 and is expected to have a capacity of 115 million US gallons.

In August 2008 we announced a $90million investment and strategic alliance with Verenium Corporation, US to develop lignocellulosic bioethanol, an advanced biofuel. Lignocellulosic ethanol is expected to have many advantages over first-generation ethanol including the use of non-food feedstock, such as miscanthus and energy cane, greater yield per acre of feedstock and potentially greater greenhouse gas emissions reductions compared with conventional fuels.

We have been working with DuPont since 2003 to explore new approaches to the development of biofuels. The first product from this collaboration will be a new fuel molecule called biobutanol. Biobutanol can be blended at higher concentrations than bioethanol, potentially providing further reductions in GHG emissions. We have also partnered with ABF (British Sugar) and DuPont to construct a $400 million world-scale bioethanol plant in Hull, UK. The plant will use some of the UK’s surplus of feed-grade wheat as its feedstock.

We are investing in a number of research programmes to develop advanced biofuels. These include:

  • A $500 million investment over 10 years in the US-based Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), at which expert biotechnologists are investigating many applications of biotechnology to energy, including advanced fuels.
  • A $9.4 million project in India to examine the possibilities of using jatropha, an inedible oil bearing crop which can be grown on marginal land, as a biofuels component.
  • A research partnership with Arizona State University and Science Foundation Arizona to develop a renewable source of biofuel. One of the feedstocks being investigated is algae.
  • A collaboration with Mendel Biotechnology to develop energy grass feedstocks for the production of cellulosic biofuels.

No comments:

Post a Comment