RWElogoRenewed World Energies Corp. is working on turning a 5 acre site into an algae biomass farm that will make biodiesel as well as producing electricity at Georgetown, South Carolina with hope of being in production by late next year.

Biodiesel Magazine reports that 3 to 4 acres of photo-bioreactors are planned to produce algae-based fuels to generate electrical energy:

[Rick Armstrong and Tim Tompkins, co-founders of Renewed World Energies Corp.] applied their experience in automation and process control to develop what they believe will be a cost-effective photo-bioreactor. Armstrong said their projections show a 12.8 percent return on investment for a 1.6 megawatt (MW) unit, while a larger 5 MW system should provide a return on investment closer to 15 percent. An individual photo-bioreactor panel measures 4 feet wide by 6 feet high by 3 inches thick, with 550 panels contained in one cell and five to six cells covering an acre of land. The process utilizes automated harvesting, reducing the moisture content in a prescreening process to about 20 percent, before being pumped to a final screen and dried further if necessary prior to processing. The estimated yield per acre is between 95 and 125 tons of dried biomass per year, according to Armstrong.

Renewed World Energies plans to use the algae produced at its Georgetown facility to fuel a green diesel biomass refinery under order from Unified Fuels. The catalyzed gasification unit has four products— the greatest proportion being a liquid green diesel, a smaller proportion of green gasoline, non-condensable gases dominated by methane and ash. RWE’s facility will include two 800 kilowatt generators, one a natural gas generator modified to burn the methane and the other a reciprocating engine to burn the green diesel. The generator exhaust will be recycled through the system. Negotiations for a purchase power agreement are nearing completion with the regional utility, Santee-Cooper Electric, Armstrong added.

One of the hopes of the development of the system is that it can be adjusted to get the most out of any type of algae. Company officials say there had not been a lot of work done on automation and process control side of photo-bioreactors.