Jul 13, 2012
E Cape varsity says its algae-to-energy research is yielding resultsBack
Africa|CoAL|Components|Generators|System|Waste|Africa|South Africa|Algae-to-energy Research|Bio-crude Oil|Chemical Technology|Energy|Equipment|Greener Coal Product|Oil|Power Generation|Power-generation|University Of Cape Town|Ben Zeelie|Power|Waste
© Reuse this
Algae-to-energy research being con- ducted at the Nelson Mandela Metro- politan University’s institute of chemical technology, InnoVenton, is said to be yielding a bio-crude oil that can be separated into jet fuel and other liquid fuels.
The researchers believe the solution may be also be capable of expanding the life span of coal reserves with a greener coal product.
InnoVenton uses microalgae to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into bio-crude oil and director Professor Ben Zeelie says talks have started with leading international airlines regarding the production of jet fuel from the resource.
“An in-depth analysis of our oil, carried out by the University of Cape Town, revealed that about 30% of the mass of oil we make is perfect for jet fuel,” he says.
In addition to jet fuel, InnoVenton is hoping to produce a significant amount of a so-called ‘bunker 150 oil’ equivalent from the bio-crude oil for power-generation purposes.
“Industries in South Africa burn millions of litres of this fuel in power and heat generators each year,” said Zeelie.
“Each year, South Africa’s mines produce about 70-million tons of coal waste, enough to run about twenty 1 000 MW power stations. The stockpile of discarded coal in South Africa is estimated at more than 2.5-billion tons, enough to run 20 power stations for more than 30 years, if we can find a way to recover and use this coal waste.”
Zeelie and his team have found that, if coal dust and algae biomass are mixed, the algae collects onto the surface of the coal and binds it with the dust.
The result is a coal-algae agglomerate, which enables the handling of the waste coal by using normal mechanised equipment.
“During this process of binding fine coal particles, the quality of the coal can be improved significantly by separating the minerals, such as common silicates, from carbon components,” says Zeelie.
If InnoVenton were to produce sufficient microalgae to recover all the fine coal produced in South Africa each year, an area of about 50 000 ha would be needed to grow the algae and it would be a R93-billion investment with a three-year payback time.
InnoVenton plans to establish a one-hectare technical demonstration photo-bioreactor facility to prove the technical and economic viability of the cultivation system later this year.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Electricity News
Recent Research Reports
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
This Week's Magazine
South Africa remains an important manufacturing and export platform for Ford Motor Company, says executive chairperson Bill Ford. However, he adds that other countries on the continent are “becoming interesting”, and that the US carmaker is casting its net wider for...
Germany’s Max-Planck-Society (MPG) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPlfR) are investing €11-million (about R150-million) into South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope array programme. The money will be used to design, build and install S-band radio...
Infrastructure spend in sub-Saharan Africa will grow from $70-billion in 2013 to $180-billion by 2025, says PwC capital projects and infrastructure Africa leader Jonathan Cawood. This is one of the findings of PwC’s Capital Projects & Infrastructure report on East...
Private-owned defence and aerospace manufacturer Paramount Group and the Ichikowitz Family Foundation unveiled its Anti-Poaching Skills and K9 Training Academy in Magaliesburg last month.
The inclusion of Bluetooth to provide sub-three meter accuracy and heightened functionality for users is one of the ways to change existing wireless networks into engagement networks. An engagement network differs from common wireless networks in that it enables the...