[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]

Process

Aurora Algae ponds in Karratha, Australia

Aurora Algae ponds in Karratha, Australia

Aurora Algae’s Matt Caspari On Growing Algae in Australia

October 11, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Recently Aurora Algae announced the successful completion of requirements for a two million dollar (AUD) Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) grant, which has been used to advance the Company’s algae-based biomass production at its demonstration facility in Karratha, Western Australia. The Government-sponsored grant has enabled Aurora to develop a pilot production facility that is producing between 12-15 metric tons of algal biomass per month, within six 4,000 square meters (one acre) ponds.

The next phase of the program will be to expand Aurora facilities and produce biomass on a commercial scale. “Aurora Algae plans to break ground in Maitland in 2014 for an expanded commercial facility consisting of 100 hectares (250 acres) of algae ponds, capable of producing up to 600 metric tons of biomass per month, and scalable to 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres),” said Matthew Caspari, managing director at Aurora Algae.

Caspari took the time recently to further explain the Company’s Australian strategy, and more about the international algae company’s growth plan.

You founded the company in the California Bay Area. Why did you move the production operations to Australia?

When we first began evaluating potential locations for our pilot production facility, we identified a variety of factors that would impact the efficiency, yield, and value of our crops. Ideal locations needed a combination of high solar radiation, warm temperatures, minimal rainfall, ready availability of CO2, an abundance of flat, arid land, and easy access to seawater. Northwestern Australia satisfied all of these criteria, with the additional benefits of a skilled labor pool and strong government support.

What is it about the Australian government that seems to make it friendly to the algae industry there?

The Australian government is very progressive in evaluating, promoting, and supporting innovative businesses with the potential to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth. At the same time, it also takes environmental stewardship seriously, so it is very interested in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.

Also, consider that Australia is currently experiencing an economic boom due to current mining activity, but this will not last forever. By investing in this new agricultural platform at this early stage, Western Australia, with its ideal climate, abundance of seawater, and availability of flat, arid land, is well positioned to become “the Saudi Arabia of algae production” over the next two decades.

This new agricultural platform is currently in its infancy, but has potential for tremendous growth, as the global population grows from seven to nine billion by the middle of this century, and limited energy, water, and food supplies are further stressed. Algae farming offers solutions to all of these problems, and Australia is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this new technology.

What part of Aurora Algae’s production still operates in California?

California is home to our corporate headquarters, as well as most of our research and development activities.

How is it coordinating between the two countries—what are the benefits, what are the difficulties?

There are obvious challenges and expenses related to travel and coordination between time zones, but this is a small consideration, given the scope of the opportunity. The algae industry represents a tremendous opportunity for the entire global population, as a sustainable, scalable source of food, fuel, and pharmaceuticals. We have always approached this as a global opportunity, so travel and coordination between time zones is just business as usual.

How would you describe your production operations in Australia?

Our pilot production facility in Western Australia is currently producing 12 to 15 metric tons of dried algal biomass per month, in six, 4,000 square meter (one-acre) production ponds.

What are the next milestones for the commercial expansion of the company?

Over the next year, we will be intensifying our R&D efforts, while simultaneously finalizing the design of our commercial plant. We plan to break ground on our commercial production facility, near the pilot facility, during the first half of 2014. This new facility will consist of approximately 100 hectares (250 acres) of ponds, with anticipated completion during the first half of 2015.

This production facility will be capable of producing up to 600 metric tons of dried algal biomass per month, and will provide the modular footprint for future expansion to 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of ponds.

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2012 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
U.S. farmers and biofuels makers are watching for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final decision on the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard rules, which will set t...
Iran-based Qeshm Microalgae Biorefinery Co. (QMAB) has launched a biofuel being marketed as BAYA®, produced from a species of Nannochloropsis (strain 6016) isolated from ...
Researchers Greg O’Neil of Western Washington University and Chris Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), have exploited an unusual and untapped class of c...
Sebastian Rich reports on PBS Newshour about the Central African Republic city of Bangui, which has been caught in the crossfire between warring Muslim and Christian grou...
Murdoch University researchers are investigating whether the effluent from piggeries can be effectively treated with micro- and macroalgae so that species of the organism...
Algae “red tide” events often create dazzling nighttime light shows of blue-green bioluminescence resulting from the force generated by breaking waves. While many mysteri...
You know algae are a great food source for you. But what are the best ways to eat it? Jami Foss writes in shape.com about 10 ways to eat algae that are common, healthy an...
Nitrogen and phosphate nutrients are among the biggest costs in cultivating algae for biofuels. Sandia National Laboratories molecular biologists Todd Lane and Ryan Davis...
Joelle Kovach writes in the Peterborough Examiner that a company developing new technologies using the algae euglena to purify water has opened a new facility near Trent ...
Sarah Zhang writes in Wired Magazine that the single-cell green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii have an eyespot that makes use of light-sensitive proteins. One of them is...
Bloomberg reports that ANA Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest airline, plans to use a Euglena Co. biofuel made from algae. ANA will use a mix of about 10 percent of the algae...
CleanMalaysia.com reports that rooftop spirulina gardens are part of a burgeoning do-it-yourself urban farm project in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. They are aimed at grow...