Biodiesel Industries selected for grant

By Erin Voegele
Posted Aug. 25, 2010

California-based Biodiesel Industries Inc. has been selected by the California Energy Commission to receive an $886,815 grant to support a multi-year project that will demonstrate biodiesel production using algae in an integrated energy system monitored by the Automated Real-time, Remote, Integared Energy System (ARIES) platform. The grant was awarded under the state's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. Construction on the project is currently expected to being in late September, and will take an estimated 29 months to complete.

The project will be sited at the Port Hueneme, Calif.-based Naval Base Ventura County, where Biodiesel Industries has already established a 3 MMgy demonstration-scale biodiesel facility that features the ARIES platform. According to Russell Teall, Biodiesel Industries president and founder, the funding awarded by the California Energy Commission will be used to install additional equipment and infrastructure at the site, including greenhouses, ponds, containment vessels and testing equipment.

The ARIES platform, which was jointly developed with Aerojet, is designed to streamline the production process. "What it basically does is resolve some of the process control problems of biodiesel production by allowing real-time sensing of what's going on in the process, and then automating that," Teall said. "The next step is to take ARIES and have it adapted to anaerobic digestion, combined heat and power, and algaculture," This includes the ability to monitor the production of biogas and evaluating different substrates for algae growth, Teall continued. The system will also be able to evaluate and optimize the percolation of carbon dioxide through the algae ponds.

According to Teall, the algae strain that will be employed by the process is proprietary. "It's a combination of different heterotrophic species´┐Żthat fully occupy the environmental niche, so we've eliminated the problem of invasive species," he said.

"Creating truly sustainable systems requires a thorough understanding of every aspect of biodiesel production, from feedstocks to finished products," Teall said. "The Integrated Energy System incorporated into ARIES will eventually allow us to generate our own heat and power, and to feed the surplus into a local micro-grid. These Energy Islands will support the local community with renewable and sustainable fuel, electricity and heat. We are grateful for the support from the California Energy Commission and look forward to working with them on this project."
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