Access to detailed information concerning the equipment makeup and exact configuration of the Algae Production Systems is restricted. Please contact Algae Production Systems directly for further information.
THE APS PROCESS DESCRIPTION
Algae Production Systems equipment
Algae Production Systems has selected a specific methodology to be applied to each of the three steps in the process of producing algae oil, which are 1) grow algae 2) harvest the algae and 3) extract the Oil and biomass. The manner and order in which our process functions is, in some cases, a unique departure from the way in which algae has been grown, harvested and oil extracted in laboratory environments. Our design for the photo bioreactor, while not radical, is unique in the way that it addresses various factors that maximize the growing process, while minimizing labor requirements.
Labor-intensive systems quickly drive up the cost of production. Our system design minimizes human intervention and maximizes computer control of the various processes. Our systems are designed to be “continuous” process rather than “batch” process, which further minimizes labor requirements and helps to maximize production rates. We minimize the loss of aquatic medium through the use of a closed photo bioreactor system.
Growing the Algae
Algae Production Systems uses a closed photo bioreactor system. Unlike other “full Flood” photo bioreactors our system functions much like a raceway pond that has been constructed above ground using clear materials with a cover. Raceway ponds are proven technology, but our photo bioreactor has many advantages over open systems, such as being protected by the cover from unwanted organisms/bugs and from contamination by rogue algae strains. This methodology also allows for the control of various other elements effecting the rate of growth of the algae, such as temperature, flow rate, maximized sun light application, CO2 concentration, nutrient level maintenance, UV filtering and Oxygen removal.
The photo bioreactor is designed as a single pass system from inoculation to harvest. Any un-matured algae and aquatic medium recovered from the harvesting and extraction processes, will be returned to the inoculation tanks, thereby returning a maximum amount of aquatic medium to the growing stage. This also provides operational economies through the conservation and return of nutrients to the system.
Representative layout of an Algae Production Systems installation
All functions of the photo bioreactor will be monitored and controlled by copyrighted software programs and automated controls. Temperature, coolant flow, CO2 concentration, gas injection, nutrient levels, addition of dissolved nutrients, O2 levels, removal of O2, algae growth rate, flow rate control and sunlight intensity will be monitored/controlled by our proprietary computerized process control system. The process control system will also allow for the storage of raw data collected from the sensors and will provide a means of analyzing the various factors and their impact on growth rates in order to continually refine the growing process for the specific reactor being controlled. The system will also be capable of being connected to the internet so that remote maintenance/update functions may be performed and historical data may be uploaded from the clients system for analysis.
Harvesting the Algae
The harvesting methodology combines a weir arrangement with commercial, full flow, separator units. The weir operation will be monitored and controlled by the automated process control system. Continuous adjustments will be made to weir settings to insure that the algae slurry diverted to the separator is within the defined harvest parameters.
Separators will further de-water the algae producing an algae paste. The paste will then be processed and all recovered aquatic medium and nutrients will be returned to the inoculation tanks.
Block diagram of the overall process flow
Extracting the Oil and Biomass
The extraction process is a two-step process involving the pressing of the algae to burst the cell walls, releasing the oil and separating the solids (biomass) from the liquids (oil and water) and then separating the oil and water. Pressing is accomplished using commercially available press equipment.
Centrifuges will be used for the separation of the algae oil from the water. Water recovered from this stage will not contain live algae, however any water suitable for reintroduction into the system will be processed for return to the inoculation tanks.