Scale Up

Touchstone Steps up Algae Fuel Project in Ohio

July 29, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Touchstone’s commercial greenhouse site in Wooster, OH, for DOE carbon capture and reuse project

Touchstone’s commercial greenhouse site in Wooster, OH, for DOE carbon capture and reuse project

Touchstone Research Laboratory, of Triadelphia, WV is scaling up its Department of Energy (DOE)-funded project to produce fuels and other high-value, bio-based products from algae. The laboratory is working with DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory to bring the project to fruition at the host site of Cedar Lane Farms (CLF), a commercial greenhouse and nursery with two production facilities on a 13-acre parcel in Wooster, OH.

Other project partners include Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research Development Center (OARDC) of Wooster, OH; GZA GeoEnvironmental of Cincinnati, OH; and OpenAlgae, LLC of Austin, TX.

Touchstone won an initial award from DOE in 2009 when the agency funded projects from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to determine the feasibility of capturing carbon dioxidefrom industrial sources (CLF uses a 2.8 megawatt coal-fired combustor at one of its production plants) for storage or beneficial use, such as conversion to chemicals, plastics, fuels, and building materials. Based upon satisfactory performance in Phase 1, in 2010 Touchstone received a follow-on Phase 2 award to further demonstrate conversion of carbon dioxide emissions into useful products while also reducing emissions and mitigating climate change. Touchstone’s DOE grant is comprised of nearly $6.8 million of ARRA funds and is matched by outside funding of almost $1.7 million.

Algae raceway pond at Cedar Lane Farms

Algae raceway pond at Cedar Lane Farms. – K.D. Chamberlain image, Ohio State University, OARDC

Touchstone has completed the design, engineering, and construction of the pilot-scale system, which includes four, 30,000-gallon raceway ponds. Mass and energy balances of the integrated CO2 capture and re-use process have been completed, along with a detailed Phase II project budget. Additionally, the team produced a detailed Greenhouse Gas Lifecycle Analysis and the project Environmental Information Volume (EIV).

During Phase 2, Touchstone will – over a two-year period – operate a half-acre open pond pilot system using phase change material (PCM) technology and emissions from the existing, adjacent, coal-fired source; and will gather data (PCM performance, CO2 injection rates, water quality, algae growth, etc.) to substantiate future commercialization efforts. CFL will provide operational labor to Touchstone for the new system.

A technology developed by Touchstone exclusively for algae systems, PCM covers a majority of the pond surface to regulate daily temperature, control the infiltration of invasive species, and reduce water evaporation losses. The PCM absorbs infrared solar radiation during the day as latent heat, and releases it to the water at night when temperatures drop.

Touchstone is testing its integrated system in two indoor and two outdoor algae-producing ponds at the nursery. For each pair, one pond is being covered by the PCM while the other pond has no protection and serves as the control. The four-pond system has an annual production capacity of approximately 2,000 gallons of oil to be turned into fuel.

The nursery uses an advanced coal-burning system from a previous DOE effort to heat its greenhouses. For the algae project, carbon dioxide generated by that system is being pumped into the ponds, keeping flue gas carbon dioxide from being released into the environment, while providing the algae with nutrient.

Touchstone’s Program Director Phil Lane welcomes open house audience.

Touchstone’s Program Director Phil Lane welcomes open house audience.

Touchstone’s algae-production technology is also combined with OARDC’s anaerobic digestion procedure of creating biogas (methane) from organic materials, such as manure and food-processing waste inside a biodigester. According to Dr. Philip Lane, Touchstone’s Director of Business Development and the Program Manager for this project, organic waste and the residual algae biomass are combined and the mixture is converted to biogas; turning undesirable materials into further renewable energy.

OARDC’s Professor Yebo Li found that the nutrient-rich liquid effluent remaining after a biodigester finishes turning waste into methane can be recovered and recycled back into the ponds to help grow the algae. He is currently growing algae in his lab using the liquid effluent, perfecting a formula that will be tested in the field.

The project will begin harvesting the algae and extracting lipids for conversion into biofuels using an on-site processing unit designed and built by OpenAlgae. High-density inoculants of algae strains from Touchstone photobioreactors will be cultured in preparation for introduction to the test ponds.  Pilot-scale process development and testing of an anaerobic digestion process to convert residual algae lipids to biofuels will be performed by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

Dr. Lane said that Touchstone’s operation of the pilot plant will determine the operating costs and yields from the biomass and fuel. Touchstone hopes the pilot plant will attract investors to license the technology to others in the algae industry with the prospect that the production process will be adopted to provide energy savings and to reduce water usage.

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
Scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have demonstrated that just two of six iron-sulfur-containing ferredoxins in a represent...
The University of Greenwich is leading a €10m international project, called the ‘D-Factory,’ to build a biorefinery to develop the microalga Dunaliella as a sustainable r...
Valensa International and Contract Biotics have announced that Contract Biotics has started construction of an additional six acres of algae production units at the compa...
Technical standards define critical terms and metrics to add wisdom for the algae industry. Agreement among science and business leaders represents possibly the most diff...
Algae is being discussed at the heart of EXPO Milano 2015, the international event that has existed since 1851, spawning world shaping themes and icons, such as the Eiffe...
A team of six University of Calgary researchers has been awarded funding for their project, Cost Effective Biotechnology for Carbon Capture and Re-Use, based on the conce...
Santa Fe Community College has been awarded a $50,000, SEED Infrastructure Grant from the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), for commercial ...
Kazuaki Nagata reports from Japan that while the Fukushima nuclear disaster has prompted vigorous discussion about alternative energy in Japan, there is a lack of a paral...
A University of New South Wales (UNSW)-led team of researchers has discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird qua...
Jamie Radford writes in the Illawarra Mercury that Pia Winberg, from the University of Wollongong, believes that the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) is in...
Gilbert, AZ-based Heliae has announced a partnership with Sincere Corporation, a Japanese waste management and recycling company, to form a joint venture and develop a co...
Algae Industry Magazine is pleased to announce a new Algae 101 series by our popular blogger, Mark Edwards, Professor, Arizona State University. The Algae Solutions to Na...
Kyae Mone Win reports in the Myanmar Times that spirulina has been harvested from Twin Daung lake in Sagaing’s Bu Ta Lin township for over a decade, but climate change an...
Starting in the early 70s, agencies in the former USSR invested more than 20,000 person-years of research and development to produce Bio-Algae Concentrates (BAC) that hel...
Algae manufacturer Cyanotech Corporation has announced implementing three major initiatives to improve Astaxanthin production at their Kailua Kona, Hawaii-based cultivati...
Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post that Algenol Biofuels estimates hackers have attempted to break into its computers 39 million times in four months this year...
Perth, Western Australia-based Algae.Tec Limited has announced that the Reliance Group has converted the first tranche of options following the positive progress achieved...
In an effort to propel the algae industry forward, the Algae Testbed Public Private Partnership (ATP3) offers a series of hands-on specialized workshops suited for partic...