Gizmos & Gadgets: An Entry-Level Algae-to-Biomass Energy Harvester

Harvesting algae cost-effectively has been a real challenge for those who are seeking alternative sources for biofuel production. Identified challenges include:

  1. The volume of water required to get harvestable algae. Conventional methods for getting the water out of the biomass are energy intensive and usually involve chemical additives.
  2. The cell walls of algae are tough requiring a lot of energy to crack which means the energy derived from the biomass provides only a small net gain over the energy used in the harvesting process.
  3. During the conversion of algae more than biomass can be harvested including valuable gases like hydrogen. So any harvester needs to include additional processes to ensure the total algae energy potential is captured.

Enter the Model 4, an algae-to-energy appliance from OriginOil, the first technology of its kind to make it possible for any facility handling wastewater to produce biofuels from harvested biomass right out of the box.

The Model 4 (seen in the image below in the lower left-hand corner) is a single-step commercial algae-to-energy appliance priced from $35,000 to $50,000 delivered on site. It is easy to setup and can produce a steady flow of biomass for biofuel production from almost any fresh or salt water source.

Described as entry-level the Model 4 takes any undiluted wastewater feed source. As the water containing raw algae passes through it is subjected to tuned electromagnetic pulses which begins the process of concentrating and separating the algae. All processes are managed by an integrated control system which ensures that 99.9% of the water gets removed producing 125 mg to 1 gram per liter of micro-algae dry concentrates. The Model 4 handles volumes of between 2 and 4 liters (from a half to a full gallon) of wastewater per minute, and up to 6,000 liters (1,585 gallons) per day in continuous harvest.

Delivered to a site as a first phase appliance it is suitable for use in wastewater treatment plants, in commercial or industrial operations that uses water and produce wastewater outflow, and in commercial and residential building with green and blue-roofs that capture and recycle water. The product datasheet provides additional information on this next-generation technology.

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...