by Sadie Mae Mace
Hawaii-based Global Algae has chosen Shandon, California, near Paso Robles, as the site for Farm 160, its new algae farm project, according to pasoroblesdailynews.com. Farm 160 intends to capture carbon dioxide and produce polymer products from algae oil with the goal of contributing to rainforest growth and providing a new sustainable source of protein and oil.
At the 160-acre farm 7,500 tons of CO₂ per year will be directly captured from the air into the cultivation raceways where it will be fixed by algae via photosynthesis. The algae will be harvested from the raceways using the company’s novel Zobi harvester. The harvested algae will then be separated into oil and protein fractions (the algae biomass is 45% oil and 35% protein) for feed/food, jet fuel, and polymer production.
The conversion to polymer products will take place off-site. 2,300 tons of CO₂ per year will be sequestered in the polymer products for hundreds of years. The remaining 5,200 tons of CO₂ captured is not sequestered as it will be released on use of the coproduct fuel, food, and feed. In addition to the GHG emissions reduction, the coproducts are important at the megaton scale because the sales enable profitable operation including purchase of land for rainforest regrowth without any subsidies or carbon credits; and because the protein production is high enough to address the main driver of deforestation in the Amazon.
This project was recently announced as one of 15 Milestone Award Winners for Xprize Carbon Removal, a competition by Elon Musk and Peter H. Diamandis that awards one million dollars to each winner.
“Our technology helps with many more global dilemmas than just carbon capture. The increase in productivity at scale will help deforestation, overfishing, water quality and quantity issues, mass extinction due to habitat loss, rural rejuvenation, and food shortages,” said David “D3” Hazlebeck, president and CEO of Global Algae. “The productivity of one acre of algae is equivalent to 31 acres of rainforest.”
The Farm 160 proposal process for Xprize included multiple parts, such as submitting business plans, technology demonstrations, Life Cycle Analysis and Lifecycle Emissions Intake Forms, financial analysis, technical writing reports, and more. The first phase of construction will include four acres and take place in late 2022.
“We chose San Luis Obispo County because we wanted a temperate climate (compared to Kauai, the location of our current facility) in a county that already has a significant agricultural presence. We specifically chose the Paso Robles/Shandon area because it fits our desired weather profile with an average of 286 days of sun per year, and it met our other major site selection metrics of: access for support (proximity to Cal Poly) and topography,” Dr. Hazlebeck said.
The company is family owned and operated, founded by Dr. Hazlebeck and run by his four children and one of their spouses. All the children attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, with the four spouses also Cal Poly alumni and/or from the Central Coast. Since 2013, Global Algae has created over 20 algae projects focused on the research and development of carbon sequestration and algae product innovation.
“We would like the community to know that we are excited to be able to provide quality jobs and other benefits to the local community. We like to get involved with each community where we have operations by providing an annual marriage and parenting seminar, having team bonding events at local restaurants/businesses, and participating in STEM nights at local schools,” Dr. Hazlebeck said.
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