Renewable Algal Energy awarded DOE grant

By Bryan Sims | September 20, 2010
Posted Sept. 27, 2010

Kingsport, Tenn.-based algal technology company Renewable Algal Energy LLC received $3 million in grant money appropriated under the U.S. DOE's Small Business Innovative Research Phase III Xlerator program for its project titled, "Algal Biodiesel via Innovative Harvesting and Aquaculture Systems."

According to RAE CEO Jeff Kanel, the company intends to use the funds to further refine-and eventually scale up-its patent-pending algal aquaculture, harvesting/dewatering and extraction technologies at its demonstration facility in Arizona, which has an aquaculture capacity of approximately 200,000 liters (52,800 gallons).

One of RAE's short-term goals is to refine its harvesting technology, which currently has a collection rate of 200 gallons per minute, Kanel said. RAE intends to improve upon that rate to be capable of harvesting thousands of gallons per minute, he continued. "Our harvesting technology also doesn't require the use of chemical additives built up within the aquaculture media," he said. "We believe that gives our technology some more advantages."

The integration of RAE's patent-pending algal technology package with upstream and downstream processes can be applied to different aquaculture systems, including open ponds and photobioreactors. Though its technology would be a viable platform for current and future biodiesel producers , RAE is focused on licensing its algal technologies to major chemical and petrochemical companies looking to add algal-based products to their portfolio, Kanel added.

While initiating the Phase III project, RAE also intends to evaluate potential sites for a future location of a 100-acre production facility.

RAE was one of 32 organizations to receive grants awards under the DOE's SBIR Phase III Xlerator program in amounts ranging from $500,000 to $3 million. The grants support clean energy technology commercialization and are aimed to allow small businesses that have previously received Phase I and II SBIR awards to scale up production of their proven technologies.
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