Algae-to-biofuel processing is set to move to commercial scale in Hawaii with plans for a new algae plant on Maui. HR BioPetroleum, a biofuel startup focused on growing marine algae using industrial emissions, announced Tuesday it has signed a memoranda of understanding with Alexander & Baldwin and the Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric Cos. to build a commercial-scale algae facility on Maui that will produce biodiesel using emissions from a nearby power plant.
Under the terms of the agreement, HR BioPetroleum will own and operate the facility as well as find financing. Alexander & Baldwin will provide the land, and Maui Electric will take care of the permitting and construction of a CO2 pipeline from their Ma’alaea power plant to the proposed adjacent algae farm.
Assuming all the paperwork and funding come through, HR BioPetroleum estimates that the first phase of production could start as soon as 2011. No details with regards to cost or output were given, and HR BioPetroleum has been unavailable for comment.
Founded in 2004, HR BioPetroleum’s process uses both closed photobioreactors and open ponds to quickly grow algae in a process it calls ALDUO. While many other algae companies are pursuing either the closed or open system, HR BioPetroluem is currently seeking a patent for their dual system. The startup has licensed an unmodified strain of algae from the University of Hawaii.
This will be HR BioPetroleum’s first commercial-scale plant. The company, through a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell called Cellena, built a demonstration facility last year on the Kona coast of Hawaii. Separately, HR BioPetroleum says it has validated its process at a pilot facility also located in Kona.
The San Diego, Calif.-based startup says it has raised $2.5 million from the National Defense Center of Excellence for Research in Ocean Sciences, the Department of Energy and the University of Hawaii. The company expects to raise additional funds via a Series A round in 2008.