The world’s first wild algae bio-diesel, produced in New Zealand by Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation, was successfully test driven in Wellington on December 15, 2006 by the Minister for Energy and Climate Change Issues, David Parker.
The two-step process firstly optimises the ponds' productive capacity, and secondly, determines the most efficient and economic way of harvesting the pond algae. Algae are provided with full opportunity to exploit the nutrients available in the settling ponds, thereby cleaning up the water. The algae are then harvested to remove the remaining contaminant. A last stage of bio-remediation, still in development, will ensure that the water discharge from the process exceeds acceptable quality standards.
The water and sludge treatment process is an elegant clean-up and management service to councils responsible for sewage treatment systems while also generating a low-cost feedstock for conversion to fuel.
The result is an algae-based extract that will ultimately be converted to an alternative fuel source.
“In the Aquaflow process there is no conflict with land use or with the production of food crops as is occurring in America and Europe, which is becoming an increasing world problem.”
Leay explains that the essence of Aquaflow’s process is to use algae to capture ‘current sunlight’ through photosynthesis, which is the identical process used millions of years ago, when the world’s oil and gas deposits were laid down, using ‘ancient sunlight’.
“But as we all know those sources of captured ‘ancient sunlight’ are now being rapidly depleted as we reach Peak Oil.
“An extraordinarily beneficial by-product of the Aquaflow process is potentially releasing a clean water resource of millions of litres of clean water - to be recycled and available for use in irrigation, industrial washing, cooling, and so on.”
60ha of open oxidation ponds. Serving a population of 27,000 with a mix of municipal and agro-industrial waste, including a significant wine industry. Annual water flow of 5 billion litres.
“We have now achieved commercial scale continuous harvesting of tonnes of wild algae at the Marlborough oxidation ponds so we can take the step up to commercial scale production of biocrude,” says Aquaflow chairman, Barrie Leay.