Fish Eat Algae, Are Harvested For Oil

Mon, 08/17/2009 - 8:22am

Biofuels Digest — The old days of the whaling oil industry were somewhat more hazardous than the LiveFuels vision of open-sea harvesting of microalgae-eating fish, but there are some similarities.

In Texas, LiveFuels announced a 45-acre algae biofuels pilot project based in saltwater ponds near Brownsville. The company said that it was attempting to cultivate algae in open waters as opposed to the closed photobioreactor system or the partially closed environment of freshwater ponds.

LiveFuels CEO Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones did not disclose the strains that would be cultivated but said that strains native to the Brownsville area will be used.

The purpose of the pilot is to explore whether algae, which blooms naturally in open waters near agricultural chemical runoff — famously in the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone — can be commercially harvested from sea-based saltwater blooms.

The company, which has raised $10 million in funding to date and has filed 10 patent applications for its technology, said that it will raise algae-eating fish in the 45-acre pilot and recover oils from the fish in a manner similar to the recovery of whale oil in the 19th century.

The company said that, following its pilot, it is aiming to develop an expanded site off the coast of Louisiana where the Mississippi River runoff creates a seawater field replete with chemical fertilizers that provide nutrients for microalgae growth.


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