Demo plant pioneers energy generating wastewater treatment process

Technology start-up company Algae Systems, along with Japan's IHI Corp, has completed the demonstration of a new biofuel production approach. Algae Systems is a group company of IHI Corp based on a joint venture partnership with Algae Systems' founders

The process involved converting algae and wastewater into both energy and clean water. The demo plant, located in Daphne, Alabama in the US, combines wastewater with algae to produce what is being called 'the world's first' energy-generating wastewater treatment process, using carbon-negative technologies. This process will yield both biofuel and drinking water.

The new approach deploys a system that can apply a variety of algae types to production, adding value by treating wastewater, and producing a drop-in fuel solution using hydrothermal liquefaction to produce fuels that do not need to be blended. It takes local strains of algae to increase production rates and optimise wastewater treatment opportunities.

Floating membrane photobioreactors accept wastewater from a local community municipal wastewater utility, drawing nutrients from the wastewater to promote algae growth. The algae consume nutrients in the wastewater, reducing the cost of treating wastewater. In this way, municipal wastewater becomes an asset to produce energy, rather than a commodity to be expensively processed.

The use of offshore photobioreactors means that a valuable land footprint would not be required to deploy the system commercially, and the motion of waves and wind provides ideal temperature and mixing controls as well as a reduction of operating costs.

Another feature of the demo plant is the advancements made in the production of fuels from biomass. Algae Systems has demonstrated a new proprietary technology for the conversion of wet algae and other biomass feedstocks into bio-crude oil, and has successfully demonstrated upgrading the bio-crude oil into diesel, jet and petrol. The US Department of Energy recently announced that a research consortium coordinated by Algae Systems and led by SRI International will receive $3.2 million (€2.4 million) in grant funding this year to advance this hydrothermal liquefaction process.

Electrabel reopens biomass plant in Ghent
It has been reported that GDF Suez's Belgian subsidiary, Electrabel, has resumed operations at its Max Green Rodenhuize biomass-fired power plant in Ghent.

According to Platts, operations restarted on 28 August after an agreement was reached with authorities and stakeholders over the renewal of green certificates.

The Ghent plant is able to handle up to 850,000 tonnes a year of wood pellets for the production of 200MW of renewable energy. The facility was shuttered at the beginning of this year after the Belgian wood industry association failed to approve its wood supply chain and subsidies were stopped.

'Following constructive discussions with all stakeholders and the Flemish government, a solution has emerged to allow the restart of Max Green,' Electrabel was reported to have said in a statement.

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