CEHMM - New Technology Brightens Future

THURSDAY, 30 APRIL 2009 06:00
CEHMM has developed breakthrough technology for growing algae and producing oil from it. Algae oil is considered by many to be the most promising renewable source of oil that can be used to produce large quantities of biofuels without impacting the production of traditional food crops.

The new technology delivers large amounts of concentrated algae that gets over half of its dry weight from oil. Until now, the amount of oil that could be extracted from algae has been much lower. The algae was grown in New Mexico in outdoor, oval-shaped, “raceway” type ponds and extraction of the oils was done in Dexter Michigan by SRS, a company who is at the forefront of commercial extraction technology.

The first demonstration was conducted on 2000 gallons of concentrate and has since been repeated in order to validate the original results. The raw oils extracted from CEHMM’s algae show incredible purity and viability for fuel production. Industry specialists have long speculated that in order for algae biofuels to become commercially viable, a strain would have to be developed that yielded at least 25% oil. CEHMM is consistently growing algae with twice that oil content.

“Of course we’re excited about this,” stated Douglas Lynn, Executive Director for CEHMM, “At first we were being cautiously optimistic, but now we can predict our lipid (oil) levels and repeat those actions that stimulate lipid production in a procedural, scientifically sound manner.” By doing this CEHMM has abandoned many of the traditional aspects of algal cultivation and has discovered some new and innovative means for raising and harvesting these microorganisms. “Once we get to commercial demonstration with consistent yields, we’ll start looking at integrating water and energy conservation strategies into our project design. A fully integrated, commercial scale system that places no burden on our domestic water supplies and can be run entirely on renewable energy is our goal. This means embedding wind, solar, and wastewaters into our strategic plan for the future.” Lynn said.

Lynn credited his staff with the groundbreaking accomplishment and added, “Our partnerships with New Mexico State University and State of New Mexico have been critical components to this success story, and now we’re beginning to develop some lines of technological development with Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. I couldn’t be more fortunate than to be a member of this team.”