Giant bladder kelp are the most abundant algae on the Chilean coast and an important source for biofuel. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Over USD 31 mln invested in algae biofuel
Thursday, January 21, 2010, 00:10 (GMT + 9)
Three out of seven projects were chosen following a call organised by the Production Development Corporation (CORFO) and InnovaChile for projects related to second-generation biofuel development from algae.
The projects, which will be executed with private and public investments, will have an initial cost of USD 31.6 million. Of the total, USD 19 million will be furnished by CORFO as an incentive to innovation.
One of the projects was presented by Desert Bioenergy – of which Electroandina has a 40 per cent stake - which will invest a total of USD 7.2 million.
Another initiative corresponds to Algaefuels – 50 per cent of Copec and Edelnor – which will spend USD 13.8 million.
The third project selected belongs to Balfuels, conformed by the US company Bioarchitecture Lab (Bal) and ENAP Refineries. This company will pay out USD 11 million.
It is anticipated that biofuel plants from micro and macro algae bases take between three and five years to start up.
A consortium of companies is conducting research in the north of the country, where the best conditions for algae cultivation are registered.
Executives of the companies chosen hope to massify the biofuel.
“We want to develop a technology that can be sold,” Juan Ilharreborde, general manager of Algaefuel, told Diario Financiero.
Meanwhile, the general manager of Bal, Lance Ayrault, assured that the product is very competitive.
According to its calculations, the barrel of biofuel would cost USD 32, that is, 60 per cent less than that of petroleum, which fetches USD 80.
Ayrault added that when the plants are in peak production, they will generate an equivalent of 5 per cent of the gasoline produced in Chile.
This US consortium seeks to produce biofuels and biomass from one of the most common algae on the Chilean coast: giant bladder kelp (huiro). These algae will produce about 165 million litres of biofuel, reducing carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere by 400,000 tonnes.
By Analia Murias