http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 15.47Change: -0.03
R/$ = 13.85Change: -0.01
Au 1121.72 $/ozChange: 0.95
Pt 991.50 $/ozChange: 0.50
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Jun 15, 2007

‘Dead’ biofuel-from-algae initiative leaves a stink

Back
Engineering|Africa|Diesel|Mining|Africa|Products|Service|Power|Diesel
Engineering|Africa|Diesel|Mining|Africa|Products|Service|Power|
engineering|africa-company|diesel-company|mining|africa|products|service|power|diesel
© Reuse this



The virtual collapse of De Beers Fuel, which had promised South Africa bio- diesel produced from algae, has left a stink in the local biofuels industry.

Most investors in the company, who invested up to R6-million each in biodiesel plants, in what was trumpeted to be the world’s first fuel-franchising scheme, today have nothing but paper to show for their money.

As far as Engineering News can establish, not one plant has been built.

The amount of money lost by investors, and the number of investors who have lost money, could not be determined owing to conflicting information on the value and number of plants sold.

De Beers Fuel – which has no connection with diamond-mining giant De Beers – marketed the concept under the Infiniti Biodiesel brand name.

Shareholders were promised plants capable of producing tens of thousands of litres of biodiesel every day, and exclusive offset areas.

These plants would initially process conventional vegetable oils, like sunflower oil.

However, from the company’s public launch onwards, a more exciting, if somewhat strange, source of alternative feedstock was punted – algae.

De Beers Fuel started a relationship with Green- Fuel Technology Corporation, of the US, which had been working on the development of a strain of algae suited to the production of biofuels.

One of the founders of GreenFuel Technology, Dr Isaac Berzin, researched the use of algae on the International Space Station and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Berzin and GreenFuel Technology inter- national MD Paul Rodzianko visited South Africa in November.

De Beers Fuel founder Frik de Beer and adviser to the company’s board, Hendy Schoon-bee, sang the praises of algae as a feedstock for biofuels production during a media visit to the company’s demonstration algae bioreactor in Mookgopong (formerly Naboomspruit), which coincided with Berzin and Rodzianko’s visit.

Also accompanying the group was Stretch Fowler, of Green Star Products, the US company contracted by De Beers to build 90 high-pressure biodiesel reactors, and Matthias Wackerbauer, of MWK Biogas, of Germany.

The experts expanded on the potential of algae technology to provide large volumes of algae feedstock for biofuels production in South Africa.

The fact that De Beers was the first company to receive a licence for commercial biofuels production from the South African Revenue Service was also mentioned frequently.

At the time of the visit, the media was told about De Beers Fuel’s ambitious plans to produce feedstock for between 16-billion litres and 24-billion litres of biofuels a year.

Moreover, by enabling the propagation of large volumes of relatively cheap renewable algae feedstock, De Beers would limit the use of food-crop feedstocks, such as sunflower and soy, in local biofuels production.

Besides giving South Africa biofuels, algae technology would consume carbon dioxide, as algae depended on large amounts of carbon dioxide for its rapid growth.

Plans were made known to deploy a fuel- assessment unit at the Kelvin power station, in Johannesburg.

The technology would also be tested in other locations in South Africa.

To prove De Beers’ abilities, visitors were shown a production plant that, according to De Beer, produced 144 000 /d of biodiesel and was being run 25 days a month, and had 50-million litres of diesel on its order book every month.

However, on April 1, popular investigative programme Carte Blanche ‘exposed’ the company when it aired a programme on De Beers Fuel.

When questioned by Carte Blanche, De Beer said that the company had only sold 41 000 of biodiesel and had 39 000 in its tanks, ready to be sold.

And, while investors in De Beers and Infiniti Biodiesel were given the impression that algae was an almost immediate solution to the antici- pated shortage of vegetable oil for biofuels production, in truth, the production of algae feedstock is viewed as a third-generation technology.

Rodzianko then said that, “on an accelerated schedule, the earliest that a commercial-scale facility would be available [would] probably be the end of

next year, to the beginning of 2009”.

Even after being exposed, De Beers continued to publish on its website unrealistic claims about its abilities.

The company also continued to point out its relationship with GreenFuel Technology, which had received the prestigious Frost and Sullivan technology innovation award of the year.

GreenFuel has since terminated the licensing agreement with De Beers Fuel owing to “nonperformance”.

It also requested that the company remove any reference to the agreement from its website.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other News This Week News
The Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) has joined forces with Tshwane North Technical, Vocational and Education and Training College (TNC) to train 100 young unemployed learners as artisans, and marked this with an event that took...
JAMES TEMPLETON The increase in distribution is as a result of Emira’s acquisitive growth
JSE-listed Emira Property Fund reported distributions per participatory interest (PI) of 134.27 c – a distribution growth of 9% – for the 12 months to June 20, 2015.
Earlier this month ground broke on South Africa’s latest four star green building – the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape. The modern three-storey office block is located within the Baywest City precinct in Port Elizabeth’s western suburbs, along the N2, and...
More
 
 
Latest News
Driving the Gauteng Department of Economic Development’s (DED’s) mandate of township revitalisation, MEC for Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development Lebogang Maile reported on Friday that the department had provided financial support to...
Terence Goodlace
Platinum mining and refining company Impala Platinum (Implats) is providing technical support to the South African Mint on the development of a platinum coin and, in a separate initiative, on the feasibility of platinum being held as a reserve asset by the South...
MEC Sakhumzi Somyo
The R2-billion Kouga wind farm, located at Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape, was officially opened on Friday by Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo. The power plant, which entered commercial operations earlier this year,...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 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 infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
The Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) has joined forces with Tshwane North Technical, Vocational and Education and Training College (TNC) to train 100 young unemployed learners as artisans, and marked this with an event that took...
JAMES TEMPLETON The increase in distribution is as a result of Emira’s acquisitive growth
JSE-listed Emira Property Fund reported distributions per participatory interest (PI) of 134.27 c – a distribution growth of 9% – for the 12 months to June 20, 2015.
Earlier this month ground broke on South Africa’s latest four star green building – the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape. The modern three-storey office block is located within the Baywest City precinct in Port Elizabeth’s western suburbs, along the N2, and...
South African armoured and mine protected vehicles company Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) has won its first order since becoming part of the Denel group at the end of April. "It's a sizeable contract," reports DVS CEO Johan Steyn. "We won the contract in July. It's a...
South African guided weapons, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and space company Denel Dynamics plans to increase its revenues to more than R2-billion within five years. This was reported by company CEO Tsepo Monaheng at its annual "Show and Tell" briefing in Centurion,...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96