Algae-growing firm Solix Biofuels has raised $16 million in a second round of venture capital funding. It has also changed its name to Solix BioSystems “to better reflect its role as a leading provider of algae production systems.”
There are many, many firms working hard right this moment trying to make money by growing algae for biofuel. Solix joins at least one other firm – OriginOil – in looking to make money from firms looking to make money with algae.
The first two most difficult things about using algae as a feedstock for biofuels is 1) growing algae and 2) growing a lot of algae.
But growing some algae isn’t THAT difficult, it’s really just complicated. Solix BioSystems is aiming to solve that problem by marketing a complete system that will get you up and running. The system has a culture capacity of 4000 liters. Which gives the algal entrepreneur a test bed and growth area for one or more of his or her favorate strains. The outdoor arrangement grows algae in large narrow plastic bags suspended in a pool of water, with CO2 bubbles (and sunshine that you supply) to feed the algae.
It is interesting to note the additional support structure included to keep the algae growing and content. The support system trailer handles preparation, dosing, harvesting, cleaning… and features ”programmable sparge timing.” I don’t know what the cost would be to scale up this sort of system, but it seems it may be expensive.
So, growing algae – check. Scaling up – unknown. The second set of challenges includes separating the oil from the water and the algae. Origin Oil, which makes a very different sort of photobioreactor, has an answer for this one. I can’t explain it, but the video reminds me of a lava lamp and is very groovy.
If you would be interested in trying your hand at building a small photobioreactor for algae, InventGeek has the instructions.
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