The biofuels industry is at a crossroads in its young, but dynamic history. With global concerns about the long term viability and environmental impacts of petroleum, biofuels have been seen as a solution. It’s clear that first generation feedstocks (e.g. corn, soy) are not the long-term solution given the realities of the competition for arable land in the “food vs. fuel” debate, as well as concerns about high energy inputs needed to produce fuels from such feedstocks.
Utilizing algae as a source for biofuels is an idea that has been around for decades. Yield estimates range from 2,000 – 20,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre of algae, which even on the low end places algae far above current yields from first generation feedstocks. Despite this high potential, it has been shown that the cost of implementing and maintaining existing algae production technology is too expensive for producing low value products such as fuel; hence the absence of any successful algae to biodiesel production plants in operation.
With oil prices at all time highs and algae becoming the latest buzz word in renewable energy, companies are cropping up claiming amazing numbers utilizing the same technology that has been studied for years. Despite these new initiatives, there has been very little advancement in the actual growing technologies. These companies are still utilizing the same basic production methods based on ponds, tubular bioreactors, bubble reactors, flat panel bioreactors, and even plastic bags.
There is one fundamental problem that is common to all these methods and therefore makes them inviable for biofuel production. They lack a cost efficient way to distribute light to the biomass. This is where Bionavitas is different. Utilizing its patent pending technology, Bionavitas is developing innovations for efficient and effective algae growth.