Aurora Algae announced the successful completion of requirements for a 2 million dollar (AUD) Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) grant, which has been used to advance the Company’s algae-based biomass production at its demonstration facility in Karratha, Western Australia. Full payment of the Australian State Government–sponsored grant has enabled Aurora Algae to develop a pilot production facility that consistently produces between 12 and 15 metric tons of algal biomass per month, within six 4,000-square-meter (1-acre) ponds. Through the grant, Aurora Algae has developed cost-effective and resource-efficient methods for growing, harvesting, extracting and producing high-quality, algae-derived products.
With the project now complete, biomass produced by Aurora Algae can be used to develop products across a number of markets including nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, aquaculture and renewable energy.
The economic and environmental benefits of producing algae in Western Australia are significant. Because Aurora’s algae is grown in seawater and thrives in hot, dry climates, the Company is able to leverage arid land that is typically unsuitable for other forms of agriculture. As a result, the water requirement for growing and producing algae in Karratha is less than one percent of that used to grow similar products from soy beans. In addition to the low level of natural resources required, Aurora’s biomass has proven to be extremely productive, producing 10 times as much oil and 40 times as much protein, per unit area, as soy beans.
Unlike algae grown in fermentation tanks, Aurora Algae uses CO2 as a feedstock, rather than a volatile agricultural commodity like sugar or corn. Fortunately, CO2 is readily available from industrial producers in the region who are eager to reduce their carbon emissions. The next phase of the program will be to expand Aurora Algae’s facilities and produce biomass on a commercial scale.
“Aurora Algae plans to break ground in Maitland in 2014 for an expanded commercial facility consisting of 100 hectares (250 acres) of algae ponds, capable of producing up to 600 metric tons of biomass per month, and scalable to 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres),” said Matthew Caspari, managing director at Aurora Algae. “LEED funding for the pilot program has been critical to the success of the project and our ability to expand in Western Australia.”