Order placed for OriginOil's algae extraction system in Australia

By Bryan Sims | May 26, 2011

Australia-based mining company MBD Energy Ltd. has placed a firm order for a large-scale algae extraction system from California-based OriginOil Inc. to be installed at its coal power station in Tarong, Australia. The order by MBD Energy follows recent collaborative trials of OriginOil’s equipment focused on optimizing capacity to handle large volumes of algae on a continuous basis.

The system on order, OriginOil’s Single Step Extraction Technology, is expected to process up to 1,100 liters (300 gallons) per minute of algae culture continuously, which would be enough to process the daily harvest at MBD’s one-hectare site at Queensland’s Tarong power station, according to OriginOil CEO Riggs Eckelberry. Once the large-scale system is installed, the mobile unit will be deployed at future power station pilot sites.

According to MBD Energy, the one-hectare facility will sequester the power station’s carbon dioxide-laden flue gas to feed a Bio-CCS (Biobased Carbon Capture and Storage) Algal Synthesizer. It will serve as proof of concept for a larger, second-stage facility of up to 80 hectares (197 acres) before being progressively scaled up to a larger third-stage facility.

Eckelberry explained that OriginOil’s extraction process is simpler and more efficient than current systems—like centrifuges or flocculation methods—without the use of chemicals or significant capital expenditure for heavy machinery. With OriginOil’s SSE system, according to Eckelberry, the amount of energy used to crack algae can be significantly less than other extraction technologies and results in the separation of oil, water and biomass. OriginOil’s SSE system can be deployed in two ways: dewatering exclusively for conversion of the entire algae mass to a refinable bio-oil or for full separation of lipids and biomass to create value-added products in addition to fuels.

“Those key points mean that it’s really the only technology available today to efficiently scale-up at a cost that competes with petroleum,” Eckelberry told Biodiesel Magazine, adding that the company is in discussions with other players involved in algae harvesting, which further validates OriginOil’s focus of addressing product integration, manufacturing and joint marketing with other vendors to deliver a total solution service for customers active in that segment of the algal supply chain.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire,” Eckelberry said. “Customers have told us they don’t want to have multiple vendors. They just want a single-vendor situation. By having this technology prove itself, we’re now able to be an enabler for all these other players, and that’s very strategic for us.”

With the new equipment order from MBD Energy, OriginOil expects to approach its forecast of $1 million in booked sales for products and services this year. 

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