Sensor array will manage hundreds of interactions critical to large production operations
Los Angeles, CA – August 4, 2011 – OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL), the developer of a breakthrough technology to extract oil from algae and an emerging leader in the global algae oil services industry, today announced it has developed a real-time control network to supervise continuous algae harvesting operations at very large algae production sites.
“Anyone harvesting algae at large scale has to deal with literally hundreds of variables in real time,” said Paul Reep, OriginOil’s Senior VP of Technology. “That’s why we built this dynamic system that can adjust harvest settings on the fly.”
Code-named “Green Stick” in research (see diagram), the network will be installed at Australian algae producer MBD Energy’s power plant test site, where the system will interface with MBD’s own growth control system to integrate operations with Single Step Extraction™ (SSE) and downstream concentration and separation processes. It makes use of industry-standard components, all integrated using proprietary OriginOil hardware and software.
The company recently filed for patent protection of the new control technology, its sixteenth patent application, entitled “Systems and Methods for Monitoring and Controlling Process Chemistry Associated with Biomass Growth, Oil Product and Oil Separation in Aqueous Mediums.” The inventors include Paul Reep, and Gavin Grey, Senior Director of Engineering.
The patent application aims to simplify the complex task of computerizing an intelligent control system for a robust commercial facilities environment where all algae production and extraction processing systems are integrated.
Measuring and controlling the hundreds of interactions that are critical to automate and scale large production operations, including algae growth, dewatering, flocculation, cell lysing and oil recovery has thus far been accomplished in our industry with little automated process sophistication, and really only becomes necessary once systems become sufficiently developed, and ready for continuous flow operations, at commercial scale.
The system is managed by a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA) that finally connects the biology and engineering with high throughput process control. This development was the direct result of ongoing research and testing activities that are focused on optimizing our Single Step Extraction™ process.
For a comprehensive view of algae operations, the SCADA’s Programmable Logic Control (PLC) will interface with existing growth control systems. Where these are lacking, OriginOil is able to extend the network into the growth phase.
“Being able to supply our SCADA with an array of comprehensive real-time information about water chemistry, and quantifiable data about what the algae cells are doing, is absolutely critical to optimize our processes, and will help keep us on track with our development goals,” added Paul Reep.
The new supervisory network will also address one of the industry’s key concerns, Operating Expense (OPEX) by reducing the number and skill requirements of human operators. Minimizing personnel is not only good for controlling costs and ensuring process quality; it is also good for the algae, minimizing cross contamination and remediation costs.