Washington State, United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] Bionavitas Inc. has unveiled its patent-pending Light Immersion Technology (LIT), which could dramatically increases algae yields in a cost-efficient and scalable model. Capable of using both the sun or an artificial light source, when immersed in a culture, LIT effectively produces an order of magnitude more algae biomass than existing growth methods and increasing yields. All of this reduces the cost to make algae-based biofuels price competitive with petroleum products, the company said.
LIT brings light to the algae culture in both open ponds and closed bioreactors through a system of light rods which extend deep into the algae culture (see picture). By distributing light below the surface “shade” layer and releasing the light in controlled locations, algae cultures can grow denser. In external canal systems, the rods distribute light from the sun into the culture. This abundant and free energy source is ideal for generating large amounts of algae for use as biofuels.
In closed bioreactors, the rods evenly distribute more readily absorbed red and blue spectrum light from high efficiency LEDs. While the LEDs increase the cost of production, algae grown in these systems are used for higher value markets such as nutraceuticals.
“With the recent successful test flights by Continental Airlines and Japan Airlines using biofuels made partially with algae, we’re seeing a broader recognition and acceptance of the huge commercial potential for algae,” said Michael Weaver, co-founder and CEO of Bionavitas. “Our Light Immersion Technology gives algae a legitimate shot at becoming a cost-effective and sustainable biofuel feedstock because we have cracked the code of the previous problem related to self-shading in algae growth. This new technology is a game-changer because it results in quantities of algae production necessary for commercial use.”