Lufthansa puts serious money on Australian algal fuel technology
Lufthansa has signed a deal in which it will arrange the funding of an algal grown fuel factory in Europe using technology owned by Australian company Algae.Tec and also conditionally buy half the output.
The news is nearly two weeks old, but was smothered by other stories resulting from the Qantas-Emirates proposed ‘partnership’.
This is what was notified to the ASX back on 19 September. (The company is also listed in the Frankfurt exchange.)
Perth, Western Australia-based bio fuels company Algae.Tec has inked a deal with German airline Lufthansa for the construction of a large- scale aviation biofuels production facility.
The site will be in Europe, adjacent to an industrial CO2 source.
Lufthansa will arrange all funding and Algae.Tec will receive licence fees and profits from the project, which it will manage.
As part of the agreement, the airline has committed to a long-term agreement to buy at least 50% of the crude oil produced at an agreed price.
The agreement forms the base for a long-term co-operation between Algae.Tec and Lufthansa for biofuels output suited to conversion to aviation kerosene and conventional diesel fuels.
The announcement had been anticipated by an MOU between Lufthansa and Algae.Tec last December, a story that also received negligible attention at the time.
Algae.Tec was accorded prime time television exposure early in August, after the opening of a trial production plant for ‘green crude’ near Nowra on the banks of the Shoalhaven River, an event at which the cameras weren’t allowed any glimpses of clues as to how the proprietary technology will work.
In its ASX profile Algae.Tec says its business is “Renewable energy in the form of commercialisation of the McConchie-Stroud algae production and processing system. ”
The process is named after the executive Chairman, Roger Stroud, and Garnet Earl McConchie, executive director.
In 2010, prior to Algae.Tec’s listing on the ASX in January 2011, this brief overview appeared on a website authored by a business promoting corporate services to green tech companies, and which ethically disclosed its involvements with them, including Algae.Tec, in the body of such articles.
U.S. and Perth, Australia-based Algae.Tec Ltd is focused on a unique algae production system to produce algae for the production of biofuels and animal feed, among several other uses. The company, which has an algae development center just north of Atlanta, has created a technology called the McConchie-Stroud System (after two of the founders) that uses a 40-foot shipping container as a totally controlled environment to promote photosynthesis and drive algae production 10 times greater than an open pond system. These containers are stackable and mobile and can be situated virtually anywhere. The Company has just released its prospectus and plans to go public on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) sometime this summer and have a demonstration container operational by February 2011.
Announcements about algal fuels deserve caution and optimism.
Caution because these are early days, and the more money gets spent on their development, the more secretive the ventures become.
Optimism because short of the unlocking of low cost levitation engines and cheap controlled nuclear fusion power generation, algal grown and refined octanes would end fossil-carbon releasing energy processes, and might even help repair the environment by removing excess carbon from the over burdened carbon exchange cycles.
Algae.Tec is thus by definition an enterprise of interest (and hope) for observers of the alternative carbon neutral fuel sector, which in broad terms offers the prospects of a fossil carbon releasing fuel bypass for the world, but is widely seen as not reaching global scale viability until 2030, 2040, or 2050. It really depends on who you ask for a guess, and how they are feeling on the day.
Fuels created from algae differ from those refined directly from plants. Blends of fossil carbon releasing refined kerosene and bio or algal fuel sources of refined kerosene substitutes have been successfully flown in test flights and in limited scope commercial operations for most of this century, but their cost, net of the benefits of carbon limiting or ETS credits, must fall to achieve wider use.
Lufthansa has already operated hundreds of short range scheduled flights in which half the fuel burned came from bio fuels blended with normally refined kerosene.