New Zealand biofuels producers join forces

Two New Zealand-based research companies have joined forces in an effort to improve the economics of algal biofuel production.

Many industries, including dairy, meat and paper, produce nutrient-rich wastewater that must be cleaned before it can legally be discharged into the watercourse. As part of this cleaning process, ‘settling ponds’ are used to remove organic sludge from the wastewater. Algae, which feeds on the sludge, is an essential part of the process.

Aquaflow Bionomic and Solray Energy have been working separately on processes to turn the algae grown in settling ponds into a usable biofuel. Aquaflow claims to be developing a ‘bio-remediation’ process that optimises the ponds’ cleaning properties.

Solray claims to have patented a machine that allows the algae to be rapidly converted to crude oil – effectively massively speeding the natural formation of fossil oil.

The companies have decided to combine the two innovations. By charging industry for the algal cleaning of wastewater, the algal production of biofuel should become more economically attractive.

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