New Zealand Firm Claims Algae-Based Biofuel Breakthrough

By Editors on September 16, 2008 1:01 PM

Using its own proprietary process, New Zealand-based Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation has produced the first samples of what it calls "green-crude," a next-generation biofuel made from wild algae that are found in the oxidation ponds of municipal waste-treatment plants. According to Aquaflow Chairman Barrie Leay, output from the first samples of green-crude show it has equal or better potential than equivalent petroleum-based products. In the ultimate win-win situation, Aquaflow's totally sustainable process requires no supplemental land or water use and removes many of the contaminants in the original source water, allowing it to be recycled and ultimately repurposed for irrigation or industrial applications.

Made entirely of photosynthetic microorganisms, Leay notes that green-crude has much the same potential for derivatives as exists in conventional petroleum. "We're continuing to explore the range of products that may be developed from green-crude. We are likely to end up with a suite of products that can literally be 'dropped into' the existing petroleum fuels infrastructure." Key among that lot are things like biodiesel, aviation fuel and a growing number of high-value industrial chemicals. Aquaflow data also indicates that emissions from its green-crude biodiesel will be 90 percent lower than those of regular diesel fuels.

"Our journey to develop a truly sustainable next generation fuel solution has taken us in a number of new and significant directions, says Leay. We've learned that developing fuels from green-crude is clearly achievable, and Aquaflow's technology appears to provide solutions to the two most significant issues globally -- energy security and water security." (photo, copyright Kirsten Rodsgaard-Mathiesen)