Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

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oldstyle's picture
oldstyle
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Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

Bio fuel reactors developed by Vertigrow benefit on 3 levels.

  1. Environmental benefit: Algae uses co2 and releases oxygen
  2. Cost effective: projected at $2.00 per gallon of fuel
  3. Eliminate transportation costs: Best locations for reactors are adjacent to industry - exchange co2 for oxygen and supply industry with energy

Video presentation:

http://cc.pubco.net/www.valcent.net/i/misc/Vertigro/index.html

I am sure there are bugs and tweaks to get the best results but these
reactors have already proven themselves.

Clipped from Valcent web site: http://www.valcent.net/s/Home.asp

Vertigro Energy is a joint venture
established with Global Green Solutions Inc. to market world wide
Valcent's patent-pending Vertigro bioreactor technology developed to
provide a profitable and viable renewable energy resource and to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.

See the information from another source of bioreactors here (may be the same technology):

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/11/green_star_prod.html

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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

I think its a good idea to discuss alternative energy ressources here. Im interested in this topic. However one must be critical about some issues:

-How is the energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) ?

-Is the technology dependant on expensive raw material, or oil-based products ?

-Is it low-tech, which may be a chance to reactivate local businesses?

-Is it local, or does it require a fancy distribution system?

-Is special high-tech required, or high investment (like the offshore wind turbine parks, that are being build in the german bay, that require the money of big energy corporations)

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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

Question:  How is the energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) ?

For open pond system the operating costs (including power consumption, labor, chemicals, and fixed capital costs (taxes, maintenance, insurance, depreciation, and return on investment) worked out to $12,000 per hectare. That would equate to $46.2 billion per year for all the algae farms, to yield all the oil feedstock necessary for the entire country. Compare that to the $100-150 billion the US spends each year just on purchasing crude oil from foreign countries, with all of that money leaving the US economy.

Taken from: University of New Hampshire (August 2004) http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html

These figures are for an open pond system that would cover 15,000 Sq Mi. using deserts such as the Sonora desert in California. BUT... the movement now is for a higher yielding closed loop system that Vertigro has developed. Either the same or similar as Vertigro.

From Global Green Solutions FAQ page: http://www.globalgreensolutionsinc.com/s/VertigroFAQ.asp

Preliminary estimates are that the capital cost of the HDVB equipment, supplied ready for construction will be less than $1,000,000 USD depending on the location and size of the facility. When we estimate costs, we include the complete capital cost of front end water and gas filtration and treatment, growing algae in bioreactors, harvesting the algae, and extracting the oil. The bioreactors (growing) and harvesting capital costs scale linearly.

BTW, I am researching this right now to answer your questions. I have no prior nor formal education in this field.

 

 Question: Is the technology dependant on expensive raw material, or oil-based products?

Once again taken from: http://www.globalgreensolutionsinc.com/s/VertigroFAQ.asp

Most of the energy is provided by the sun. Since HDVB systems do not require arable land, they do not compete with food sources for agricultural acreage. Electricity is required for operating the pumps, heating/cooling and harvesting and extraction processes.

 

Question: Is it low-tech, which may be a chance to reactivate local businesses?

I can't answer that from knowledge, but from the video and subsequent explanation I take it that the real hi-tech is in the algae testing, selection process and oil extraction.

 

Question: Is it local, or does it require a fancy distribution system?

  It is a local system placed in your back yard, if that's what you want. As small as 1 acre is needed for a complete modular system. There is no limit, relatively speaking, to the maximum size. The question in my mind is... can the extracted fuel be pumped directly into my tank?

 

Question: Is special high-tech required, or high investment (like the offshore wind turbine parks, that are being build in the german bay, that require the money of big energy corporations)

No. I wouldn't say that $1 million per modular system is the high investment you refer to? Again, see the FAQ page.

http://www.globalgreensolutionsinc.com/s/VertigroFAQ.asp

 

I hope that helps.

 

 

 

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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

I am extremely interested in such technologies but I always have difficulty when I run into statements like this:

These figures are for an open pond system that would cover 15,000 Sq Mi. using deserts such as the Sonora desert in California. 

One wonders....how much evaporation might happen in 15,000 Sq Mi of open water in the Desert?

And then when I look at the pilot demonstrations in the vertical (closed-loop) systems I see plastic tubing and plastic reactor vessels and greenhouses with metal scaffolding, etc.

I do not know the energy budgets involved, but I sincerely wish that the advocates would spend a few minutes and  calculate it all out.

Within a factor of 2 or 3 would suffice, no need for precision.

But the dollar cost is utterly ignorable for the preliminary discussions so don't spend any time on ROI, funding schemes, or dollar based comparisons to oil or nat gas or anything.

This should make it easy (and which is why I am confused why I don't see the calculations anywhere yet...).

  1. How much energy, all inclusive, will it take to build a greenhouse?
  2. How long will the greenhouse last?
  3. How many gallons/BTUs/whatever, will be produced during the lifetime?
  4. How much energy will it take to produce a replacement greenhouse? (this should include assumptions about the energy cost of future materials) 
  5. What amount of growth in output (new greenhouses) is assumed in the model?

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advertorial
is this thread advertorial??
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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

www.bellbioenergy.com

I came across this company from radio interview. While its not clean fuel in the same right as bio fuels, it aims to make the fuel we use now through use of our waste using modified enzymes. Apparentlyt the DOD is setting up the first test facilities for their use. I wont get started on the current fuel versus bio fuels etc.

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Re: advertorial

No.

I posted the original because I found it to relevant to the crash course if algae biofuel reactors would effectively remove the ENERGY part of the equation. I don't know if it will but there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm out there. Just google "algae biofuel" and you see. The Vertigro system is not the only system being tested. As I mentioned in an earlier post the University of New Hampshire has developed a different system. See here: http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/2005/06/university_of_n.html

I have nothing to do with this research and I am not trying to promote it. I am just bringing it to the attention of people reading this forum. Don't expect me to answer your questions, but rather Google and find out for yourself. I'm learning as I go along.

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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

All too often EROEI calculations for alternative fuels do not take into account the large "oil subsidy" that such fuels currently receive.  For example, as Chris pointed out, the plastic tubing and reactor vessels and greenhouses with metal scaffolding will all take oil to construct and maintain.  That must be factored into the EROEI calculation in order to get a truly accurate net energy estimate.

Another potential issue with algae biofuels is that it requires a moderate amount of water, which is becoming increasingly scarce.

Still, algae based biofuels have a lot of potential and currently seem to be our best option for replacing liquid fuel if the technology can be scaled up quickly enough and the EROEI (when properly calculated) turns out to be favorable. 

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Energy Return On Energy Invested

[quote= switters]All too often EROEI calculations for alternative fuels do not take into account the large "oil subsidy" that such fuels currently receive.  For example, as Chris pointed out, the plastic tubing and reactor vessels and greenhouses with metal scaffolding will all take oil to construct and maintain.  That must be factored into the EROEI calculation in order to get a truly accurate net energy estimate[/quote]

 

To back that up: http://canadianation.ca/debate/biofuels.htm
  • A Cornell study on Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) found that when it comes to biofuel production, "corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced". ( http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html ) While critics claimed the author took too much into account when determining energy inputs, the most cited EROEI was 1.34:1 for corn ethanol. Gasoline, by comparison, is 5:1.
  • The U.S. administration has claimed that biofuels will help reduce dependency on foreign oil supplies. Critic Robert Rapier, however, argues that "as ethanol has ramped up since 2000, not only has gasoline demand increased by 10 billion barrels per year, but there isn't even any obvious effect from ethanol on the gasoline growth curve. As ethanol has ramped up, we have become more dependent upon petroleum." ( http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/2007/08/ethanolalternative-fuel-faq.html#q2 )

 

Having quoted the above I want to say that these figures have been based on familiar agricultural methods, such as diesel run tractors and harvesters upon large land areas with massive irrigation. When you look at the vertical algae reactor system it removes a lot of these costly energy consuming methods with no footprint on arable land, and then increases the yield of biofuel enormously, at least by comparison. With the rising scarcity of fresh water it is an important factor that the algae reactors are a closed loop system that doesn't lose water other than to replace the oil that has been extracted.

I think this changes the equation, but as yet I can find no real numbers to support a higher return on energy invested. I think we need to recognize that the bioreactor system is a fairly new experiemnt and all of the numbers we so eagerly require are not in just yet. At any rate, this is worth watching because, as is so often said... "Where there is a will there is a way."

 

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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

I have often found that a rough look at ROI will give a rough idea as to whether or not there is a positive EROEI. So far my ‘gut instinct’ tells me that the closed system on the not are not winners.

 

After getting my current project of turning old tyers into fuel up and running  ( In production this week I hope  ) I am looking at ploughing some funds into Algae fuels.

 

But only once I have done my proper homework on 1 to 5  ;-)

 

Cheers Hamish

 

 

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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

The number one problem that I can think of with Algae based bio-fuels is that Algae needs nutrients to grow.

I know they use fertilizers to grow it. I suspect that if you factor in the fertilizer cost the EROEI would plummet.(Typically mined using oil powered machines or made directly from Nat Gas)

The same goes for other forms of bio-diesel. You don't grow a decent Canola crop without fertilizer. The same would be true of Algae.

At some stage there would need to be an input. There would have to be more to it that just getting a tank, filling it with water and then growing algae. 

My 2 cents anyway.

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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels
wait..? is that true? do they use fertilizers in those big tubes of algae?  I thought it was just CO2? Anyways, Im probably wrong, actually I think I am now anyways.
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Re: Vertigrow Bio fuel algae reactors a benefit on 3 levels

Here are some things to consider:

  1.  Algae has protein in it.  Nitrogen is a component of protein.  So I assume algae will need nitrogen based fertilizers created using natural gas.  Can the nitrogen be recycled back into the system once the oil - which doesn't contain nitrogen -  is extracted? Could this reduce the nitrogen input to near zero? 
  2. The same question applies for potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium,and other minerals needed by anything that lives.
  3. Can we obtain all of the inputs (fertilizer, equipment, plastic tubes, land, etc.) in sufficient quantities to grow enough algae to create enough biofuels to make a dent in our current use of fossil fuels?
  4. Is there anything unsustainable about this?  For example, use of significant quantities of nonrenewable resources in production.
  5. Of course there's energy return on energy invested.  Soybeans seem to do OK.  Switchgrass might do better.  Algae may be even better still.
  6. There's also the question of ramping up production fast enough to avoid major hardship and possible economic/social collapse, finding investment capital to ramp up production, switching from gasoline to biodiesel, etc.

When we apply the above questions to any soil based crop soybeans, switchgrass, whatever. We run into trouble with questions 3 and 4. 

Question 3: There's not enough land to grow enough soybeans or corn to make a decent dent in fossil fuel use.   might do better.  Anyone find any info on that.

Question 4:   Can soils really sustain long-term extraction of much of their annual biomass production and maintain yields indefinitely?  This is especially true of switchgrass which will be grown on poorer soils and involve removal of most if not all of the annual above ground growth.  Decomposition and fires return carbon and minerals to the soil where grasses grow wild.  We'll have to find a way to do that even if we're removing most of the biomass for ethanol production.  I don't see how it could be done.

Algae might fare better against these these questions, but I wonder if there is indirect depletion of land, fertilizer feedstock or sources of production equipment.  Theoretically, all elements but carbon and hydrogen could be recycled from generation to generation of algae while carbon and hydrogen can be obtained through photosynthesis.  It then becomes important to know just how much nitrogen and minerals will be lost in each cycle.  Whatever is lost will need to be replaced with fertilizers.  The only other  issues are related to production equipment and total global production limits.  Perhaps algae can sustainably create a meaningful quantity of biofuel.  Perhaps it is possible to ramp up production quickly enough to prevent a collapse.  Certainly nobody has proven this, though.

 

Steve 

 

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