OriginOil Develops Portable Modular Round-the-Clock Algae Biodiesel System

OriginOil Algae Mashup[social_buttons]OriginOil has been a busy little company.

On the heels of a breakthrough which the company claims will make algae oil farming a true competitor to petroleum, OriginOil has filed two patents that may make the production of fuel products from algae incredibly cheap and easy in the near future.

The first patent deals with a system known as the “Helix BioReactor™.” OriginOil Director of Development, Nicholas Eckelberry, had this to say about the Helix:

“The key to dependable, high algae yield is continuous lighting [to sustain growth]. In a natural pond, the sun only illuminates down to about half an inch below the surface. In contrast, the Helix Bioreactor features a rotating vertical shaft with very low energy lights arranged in [such a way as to provide constant light to all algae in the bioreactor].

This results in a theoretically unlimited number of [growth] layers. Additionally, each lighting element is engineered to produce specific [types of] light for optimal algae growth. By giving algae only the light it needs, throughout the growth tank, all of the time, we’re growing algae quickly and cost-effectively.”

The second patent takes the Helix Bioreactor™ and uses it in a modular, scalable and transportable algae factory. This system will allow stacking of many Helix BioReactors into an “integrated network of fully automated, portable and remotely monitored growth units.” OriginOil executives had this to say about it:

“OriginOil’s system addresses two key areas: growth of the algae and extraction of the oil. By using a modular design, we can connect a large number of Helix BioReactors to a small number of extraction units to achieve economies of scale and higher production of algae oil. This is an important patent filing as it helps to enable the industrialization of algae production. As we envision it, the system is modular, stackable, truckable, self-sufficient, adaptable, fully remote-manageable, and, most of all, scalable.”

As noted in a previous Gas 2.0 post about algae, acre-for-acre algae can produce up to 100 times the oil yield of soybeans. Additionally, the biomass left over after oil extraction can either be fed to livestock as a protein supplement, or fermented into ethanol.

One big problem hampering oil-from-algae systems up to this point has been figuring out how to collect and extract oil from the algae, and in the case of open ponds, prevent contamination by invasive species. OriginOil’s system may represent a giant leap forward in addressing these major issues in an efficient and cost effective way.

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Image Credits: OriginOil Logo from OriginOil, Algae photo from Spigoo’s Flickr library under Creative Commons




Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.