Research into the production of biodiesel from algae in South Australia has been boosted by the granting of $1.2 million to Flinders University and South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) from the Premier’s Science and Research Fund. The grant is being matched by Sancon Resources Recovery, the SARDI and Flinders University to total a $4 million investment. The goal is to develop a proof-of-concept facility to explore production of algal biodiesel feedstock and high value co-products.
SARDI will lead the development of the algae production system while Flinders University will focus on the production of high value co-products from the biomass after the oil for biodiesel has been extracted. This process is similar to the petrochemical industry where petroleum fuels (the main product) and high value petroleum based chemicals all result from the one refining process. For this reason both SARDI and Flinders University are referring to their model as a bio-refinery.
The proof-of-concept will include a pond facility on Torrens Island that will utilise nutrient rich saline water from the Port River estuary, carbon dioxide from adjacent power plants and solar energy to produce the algae. In the ponds will grow an algal strain that SARDI will develop from their existing collection of native strains that show high oil production potential. SARDI also have the considerable task of optimising the algal production systems, reducing production costs, ensuring scalability and developing harvesting and extraction technologies.
No information has been provided on the intended use of the technology by Sancon Resources Recovery but given they specialise in waste reprocessing it appears likely they are interested in monetising high nutrient waste streams.