Bioscience

XL Renewables fills tanks with algae-based fuel

July 22, 2008

By Flinn Foundation

[Phoenix Business Journal, Ashley Macha] – Think twice before cleaning out your fish tank: That algae build-up might just help fuel your car.

XL Renewables Inc. is a Phoenix biorefinery aiming to provide fuel and food for a growing population through algae biomass. The company hopes to become a major player in animal feeds, nutritional oils and energy feedstocks.

President Ben Cloud said the idea behind the company was to import corn to produce biodiesel, but issues arose and XL began looking at algae as an alternative. The company now is looking at algae not only as a fuel substitute, but also as a means to solve problems facing the environment and food supply.

“Algae biomass will emerge as a third primary crop on the world scene that will be competitive with corn and soybeans for foods, animal feeds and fuel supply,” Cloud said.

The company opened its 40-acre algae development center in Casa Grande in November 2007. Cloud said Arizona offers sunlight, environment, water and land base for large-scale algae production.

The algae development center uses a specialized trough system. The algae is exposed to sunlight, promoting growth, as it flows through troughs spread across the 40-acre facility. The algae solids then are concentrated for processing.

“Working in the area of renewable fuels and energy, I’ve really come to believe and understand that we are heavily polluting our world with our consumption of fossil fuels,” Cloud said. “It is exciting to see the emergence of the new technology. Anything that prevents us from using fossil fuels is a plus.”