New technology taps hydrogen generated by living algae
Los Angeles, CA July 8, 2010 – OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL), the developer of a breakthrough technology to transform algae, the most promising source of renewable oil, into a true competitor to petroleum, today announced a new invention that generates hydrogen from living algae, providing an additional energy source from bioreactors. In contrast to previously reported developments in the area, the new Hydrogen Harvester™ uses little or no external energy inputs, requires no sulfur deprivation or other “stressing” of the algae, and no genetic modification. The process employs viable, high growth rate, high oil content algae strains.
“One of the primary challenges for algae production is to achieve the best-possible energy balance,” said Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil CEO. “By harvesting hydrogen from algae we are able to increase the energy output of virtually any algae production system. The result is a photosynthetic technology platform that yields energy in the form of oil, biomass, and hydrogen.”
Algae already create oxygen through photosynthesis. Recovering hydrogen provides the necessary ingredients for electricity generation using fuel cells. The energy can be used to offset the electricity requirements of algae cultivation, harvesting and downstream processing.
Dr. Brian Goodall, OriginOil’s new CTO, commented: “The co-generation of hydrogen at the algae production site is a critical development for the realization of a completely integrated algal biorefinery. All routes from algae to ‘drop-in’ fuels such as renewable diesel and jet fuel require hydrogen and hydrotreating. The Hydrogen Harvester technology would eliminate the need for hydrogen pipelines and dependence on existing refineries which are typically far removed from ideal sites for algae growth.”
The Hydrogen Harvester will be integrated into OriginOil’s existing portfolio of algae growth technologies, including the recently announced MultiReactor™. It will also be available as an add-on to other industry growth systems.
The company recently filed for patent protection of the new hydrogen harvesting technology, its tenth patent application, entitled “Bio Energy Reactor”. While the invention is applicable to any photosynthetic organism, algae is thought to be most productive.
Hydrogen has often been called the perfect fuel. Its major reserve on earth (water) is inexhaustible, meaning that we will never run out of hydrogen. Hydrogen, if produced cleanly, efficiently and affordably from renewable resources, is the ultimate green energy solution: It produces no air pollutants or greenhouse gases when used in fuel cells and the only pollutants generated when burned in internal combustion engines are nitrogen oxides (NOx).
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has stated that producing hydrogen by direct water-splitting technologies — using photosynthetic microorganisms — is the “Holy Grail” of the hydrogen economy, the ultimate clean and sustainable hydrogen production method, and is the focus of long-term R&D efforts at NREL. OriginOil believes that the new Hydrogen Harvester could represent the breakthrough needed to power the hydrogen economy.