LiveFuels – Making Sustainable & Cost effective Fuel
LiveFuels is developing an integrated approach to growing, harvesting and processing algal biomass into fuels and other valuable co-products. Our solution uses the productivity of natural aquatic life to fundamentally resolve challenges of cost, risk and scalability.
Growth: Using natural systems to keep costs low
While many algae-to-biofuels companies grow monocultures of algae—sometimes genetically modified strains—within expensive enclosures, LiveFuels grows a robust mix of native algae species in low-cost, open-water systems.
For decades, widespread run-off of fertilizers and other agricultural wastes into waterways has caused large, fast-growing blooms of algae in the ocean. When uncontrolled, these blooms disrupt, and potentially collapse, natural ecosystems. At the same time, these blooms represent an incredible amount of energy and resources.
LiveFuels grows and harvests algae in estuarine environments, at the intersection of rivers carrying agricultural waste nutrients and the open ocean, in order to capture the energy and resources of the algal blooms that already occur at these locations.
Our systems are designed to minimize the need for mechanical equipment and heavy construction and to make scaling-up simple and efficient. And by combining our low-cost systems with proprietary monitoring and management technologies, we are able to optimize growth conditions, such as algal species composition, nutrient balance and ecosystem functioning.
Today, we are turning our trial results into a commercial process that will allow us to select and develop the ideal sites for sustainable and environmentally beneficial algae production.
Harvesting: Biomass concentration as nature intended it
Conventional machinery is unable to harvest microscopic algae from large volumes of water at low cost. To harvest algae, LiveFuels uses a natural mixture of oil-rich “algae grazers,” such as filter-feeding fish species, in place of expensive and energy-intensive mechanical equipment. This approach eliminates significant capital and operating costs, while providing a scalable system for harvesting large quantities of algae.
Currently, our research focuses on ecosystem and life cycle modeling in order to achieve the optimal growth of aquatic organisms.
Downstream: Leveraging existing technology to streamline processing
Not only are aquatic herbivores extremely efficient at collecting algae, they are also easily processed with existing technology. Current technology converts fish into a number of valuable products, such as renewable oils, fishmeal and high-value dietary supplements.