Sunday, November 15, 2015
Monday, November 2, 2015
Help “reset” the algae industry
November 1, 2015 — by Robert Henrikson
es, push that red reset button to get the algae industry back on track, by nominating players who are making a real and positive contribution in the world of algae. Over this past decade, the Algae Industry has been dominated by big money chasing the mirage of commercial algae biofuels. My March 2011 post “Shakeout in Algae Biofuels” described shakeout scenarios about to unfold.
This great biofuel boom and bust raked in billions of dollars in government, corporate and private investment over the past decade, attracting charlatans and collaborators (some who knew better) who sucked up the public bandwidth about algae, burned investors, and discouraged many from funding algae ventures for food, feed and high-value products.
Failed biofuel companies may try to excuse themselves because the price of oil fell. A decade ago, experts with real algae experience could not identify a pathway to make algae biofuel cost competitive with conventional fuel even at higher fuel prices. Where is the path forward today?
Just a few years ago corporate suits were dismissing non-fuel products from algae as “co-products” for “niche” markets. Now they are gone. Their replacements at algae biofuel ventures have desperately tried to pivot to those niche markets and algae co-products like food, feed, nutraceuticals, high value oils and fine chemicals, to show a real income stream for their sponsors.
During this time, we have also learned about the barriers to the massive scale required for biofuel commercialization. This undermines the claim that bigger is better, and renews appreciation of small is beautiful.
Algae industry conferences use to open with a plenary panel of algae CEO “all-stars,” touting their big successes developing biofuels. One-by-one they have dropped away.
If 10% of the funding for algae biofuels had been directed into R&D for animal nutrition studies and cost reduction for algae aquaculture and animal feeds and human food, we would already be well along on this path. Growing algae for feed and food will have a far greater impact on reducing negative effects of climate change than biofuels ever would, and in doing so, we will support all sentient beings on this Earth.
Let’s reset our algae narrative. There is plenty of good news to share. Opportunities abound. Refocus on the real algae industry that offers real products and services from algae. Let’s nominate individuals and organizations that understand how to change the world. “Eat Algae, Don’t Burn It.”
I agree with this, algae as food is more important than fuel. We have been saying this for past many years.
Friday, September 25, 2015
This blog post is somewhat more technical than some of the other posts I have done to date. The reason for this is that I am presenting actual data! Yes! The numbers are in and I have graphs, relationships and hypotheses to offer. So if you are interested in the more analytical side of things then I hope you enjoy this post. As we are moving towards summer here in Australia things are warming up so the cyanobacteria are getting more active and the use of Nualgi in these tests is going to get properly tested to see how good it is. I hope you enjoy the report and as always, feel free to contact me if you want to know more.
Nualgi is a nano-silica nutrient mixture that has all the micronutrients required for growth of diatom microalgae adsorbed into the amorphous nano-silica structure. As only diatoms have a requirement to take up silica, they are the only algae that benefit from the micro-nutrient boost. This means that the diatoms successfully out-compete the other algae for nutrients, and reduce blue-green algae growth in a natural way. The process is non-toxic and offers an added benefit in that bacterial activity is enhanced due to the increased dissolved oxygen content from the diatom bloom. This increase in dissolved oxygen and bacterial activity will assist in bringing down the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the wastewater.
The three trials presented here are each slightly different in regard to the conditions of the STP or the water being treated. Trials 1 and 2 have both shown a strong change in the percentage of the BGA that make up the Total Cell count. A similar pattern may slowly be emerging in Trial 3 which has a lower N concentration.
The Total Cell Counts in all trials have been seen to reduce markedly from the starting values. Trial 2 has shown some recovery of non BGA algae, although this stage may be transitory as the lagoon continues to settle toward having a higher DO and lower BGA population.
Because of the increased activity of diatoms, especially benthic diatoms, induced by the addition of Nualgi there have been several positive changes to the water quality. In Trial 3, a reduction in the pH and a qualitative assessment that the invertebrate populations in the water have increased suggest that the water is progressively returning to a more stable environment in which algae other than BGAs may proliferate and the nutrients will shift from being retained in algal cycles and may now move up the food chain through the invertebrates and into higher animals such as fish, eels and birds.
Longer trials are needed to assess the long term use of Nualgi in managing nutrients and controlling Blue Green Algae growth, but these three trials are strongly indicative that the use of Nualgi is a simple and effective pathway to achieve this outcome.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Both proposals about Nualgi to the Climate CoLab contests have won the Popular Choice Awards
1. Nualgi - Diatom Algae - Oxygen
Proposal for Energy-Water Nexus Contest
Proposal for Energy-Water Nexus Contest
2. Nualgi - Diatom Algae for Sewage Treatment
Proposal for Waste Management Contest
Proposal for Waste Management Contest
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
How the world’s oceans could be running out of fishhttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0515_030515_fishdecline.html
Big-Fish Stocks Fall 90 Percent Since 1950, Study Says
A century of fish biomass decline in the ocean
Long-term decline in krill stock and increase in salps within the Southern Ocean
Phytoplankton Population Drops 40 Percent Since 1950
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Algae-based Wastewater System in Development in Yarmouth
March 17, 2015
YARMOUTH – A Yarmouth man long involved in trying to solve the region’s water quality woes is moving forward on a pilot program in South Yarmouth that uses algae both to remove nutrients from wastewater and also to power the process.
Brian Braginton-Smith, president and CEO of AquaGen Infrastructure Systems, is working on a facility next to the Parker’s River that is meant to treat wastewater in an environmentally friendly way that also does not burn fossil fuel for the energy supply.
“It’s actually the first fully integrated algae-based wastewater treatment facility that I know of and it’s part of what we’re envisioning as a watershed based solution for the Parker’s River watershed,” Braginton-Smith said.
The Cape Cod Commission has been working on updating the region’s wastewater plan, called the 208 plan, with a watershed-based solution to the region’s wastewater issues.
“It’s got the capability to get way down on the nitrogen that comes out of the pipe,” he said referring to the need to remove as much nitrogen as possible from the wastewater so it does not pollute the region’s groundwater and estuaries.
Braginton-Smith said his process–called a photo-bioreactor–uses microscopic algae that is part of plankton in the ocean and takes advantage of its ability to consume nutrients and carbon dioxide while breathing off oxygen.
Braginton-Smith said he has been running a lab next to the Parker’s River in a greenhouse to the west of the former Zooquarium while developing the process for the last several years.
At night, Braginton-Smith said, “It’s got sort of this purple pinkish glow that’s from the LED lighting. The photo-bioreactor is in a 24-hour photosynthesis cycle, so it’s always sort of breathing CO2 in and exhaling carbon dioxide and consuming nutrients.”
Braginton-Smith said he envisions his process as one part of the solution to the Cape’s wastewater problem.
“If we can remove the nutrients from the water and help to bring about the restoration of the coastal ecosystem, if we can also remove substantial volumes of CO2 from the atmosphere then we’re also having a positive impact on the atmospheric pollution,” he said.
His idea of powering the system by converting algae to energy is a key part of the process.
“If we’re going to be moving forward and making the decision to solve the problem of the wastewater, while we’re engaging in that solution, we should be trying to accomplish as much as we can to help to bring about more sustainable communities on Cape Cod and around the world. It just makes sense and that’s the model that we’re following,” he said.
Braginton-Smith said the initial cost for the South Yarmouth site will be $2.2 million to $4.3 million. The project has already received a $900,000 grant from the Bi-National Industrial Reserach and Development Foundation (BIRD).
Braginton-Smith said he expects a couple of stakeholders who would use the wastewater treatment for their properties would also contribute. “We’re the majority of the way there,” he said of funding. “We fully expect that this will be fully capitalized and moving forward.”
The permitting process is just beginning, he said. He estimated 18 months for the regulatory process to complete and the system to begin treating wastewater with the algae process he has developed.
“I’m not saying our wastewater treatment plants are going to be the salvation of the global warming, but every step that we take that consumes CO2 and sequesters it is beneficial,” he said.