Kuehnle Algae Replaces Oil

Using very little land, Kuehnle AgroSystems can analyze and optimize algae into a valuable biofuel.

Problem

Hawaii spends $5 billion a year on imported oil, but biofuels that can replace oil usually require a lot of agricultural land.

Solution

Using its library of algae strains, Kuehnle AgroSystems says it can select, analyze and optimize algae for specific growing environments. Using relatively little land, KAS’s algae can become a valuable biofuel.

How it works

With funding from the government-financed Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture, KAS developed a small Photo Bioreactor that stimulates the algae to reproduce exponentially. KAS is now working to produce larger units that can pipe carbon dioxide and wastewater from an industrial facility into tanks to accelerate algae growth.

Next step

KAS has created about 5,000 liters of algae, and aims to have 50,000 liters in 12 months. “We are basically a research and development company that now is transitioning to a product-focused company,” says Mark Ritchie, director of business development.

Obstacle

While algae biomass is cleaner for the environment, it costs more to produce than the price of oil. “The cost needs to be down enough so that it will be competitive enough with petroleum,”
CEO Heidi Kuehnle says.

 

1. Algae grows in a photobioreactor, where tubes are exposed to light.

 
 

2. Algae is harvested and concentrated.

 
 

3. Most water is removed to make the concentrated algae product.

 

4. The concentrate is shipped to algae growers and aquaculture facilities.

 
Photos Courtesy: Kuehnle Agrosystems

 

Kuehnleagro.com

 

Know about a great innovation?
Send your idea to feedback@hawaiibusiness.com and type “Innovation” in the subject line.

 

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Old to new | New to old
Jun 6, 2011 08:50 am
 Posted by  davew

It looks like the tubular bioreactor is using polymer tubing, which will degrade quickly, leach chemicals into the inoculate and foul constantly on the inner surface. A more sustainable solution would be glass tubing, which is certainly more expensive on the front end, but offers year of service life and needs only limited maintenance. See here for further details: http://www.us.schott.com/tubing/english/special_glass/industry_environment/pbr.html

Jun 7, 2011 11:21 pm
 Posted by  KAS1

Kuehnle AgroSystems (KAS) is pleased to offer seed stock for our customers that are growing and converting the algae into biofuels as well as our customers involved in other algae-derived products.

KAS has validated its seed production system and has made improvements to the process over the past year to be able to produce high quality live algae.

Aug 16, 2011 02:11 am
 Posted by  Sabaruddin Wagiman Tjokrokusumo

Very good solution to your country state

Sep 17, 2012 01:32 pm
 Posted by  staniel01

I was wondering what is the algae strains that is being used for the production of the biofuel. Is Chara algae suitable for such conversion to biofuel?

Add your comment:

 

Don't Miss an Issue!
Hawaii Business,June