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Algae biomass production moves forward in Western Australia

Algae biomass production moves forward in Western Australia
Algae production.

A pilot production facility for algae biomass in Western Australia secured a $2 million Australian dollar grant to advance its operations.

Aurora Algae, which produces algae-based products for the pharmaceutical, nutrition, aquaculture and fuels market, grows and processes algae biomass in six 4,000-square-meter ponds in a facility in Karratha, Western Australia.

The facility has achieved 12 metric tons to 15 metric tons per month of algae biomass production. The project’s next phase will be to expand the facilities, with commercial production anticipated to begin in mid-2014.

The Karratha facility is supported by a grant from the Low Emissions Energy Development or LEED fund of the Australian government.

“Algae farming is well suited to [Western Australia]’s dry, sunny climate, regional carbon dioxide sources and liquid fuel requirements,” noted Energy Minister Peter Collier.

In addition, because Aurora’s algae are grown in seawater, the government said it is able to leverage arid land that is unsuitable for agriculture and as such does not compete with food production.

Aurora Algae uses carbon dioxide as a feedstock for their algae. The company is anticipating a steady supply of carbon dioxide from industrial producers in the region seeking to reduce their carbon emissions.

“LEED funding for the pilot program has been critical to the success of the project and our ability to expand in Western Australia,” said Matthew Caspari, managing director at Aurora Algae.

The company also plans to break ground in Maitland in 2014 for an expanded commercial facility consisting of 100 hectares of algae ponds capable of producing up to 600 metric tons of biomass per month. The facility will eventually be scalable to 2,000 hectares. – EcoSeed Staff

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