Renewergy Corporation, of Erie, PA, has begun cultivating algae with its patent pending Aeroponic Algal Culture system at the Erie Wastewater Treatment Facility. The system is designed to encourage and enhance the growth of naturally occurring algae with nutrients from the effluent. The algae can be used to produce a variety of byproducts.
Renewergy’s innovative approach to growing algae is known as Aeroponic Algal Culture. It provides an efficient, controlled growing environment that combines pollution mitigation with biomass production. Much of the company’s research was done in the Regional Science Consortium laboratory at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center
Aeroponic Algal Culture allows for the cultivation of high concentrations of biomass with minimal amounts of water. This greatly improves the harvesting of algae at around 4% solids as opposed to being diluted in a pond and requiring filtration.
“This system eliminates several problems which have previously made algal fuel production unprofitable and unreliable”, said Dr. Eric Karrfalt, Director of Research at Renewergy.
Aeroponic algal culture can utilize a number of pollutants in the growth process. Using the effluent stream at the Erie Wastewater Treatment Facility as feedstock removes excess nutrients from the wastewater, thereby cleaning up the effluent before it is discharged without the use of expensive chemical processes. With this new technology the algae can also be exposed to high levels of CO2 without the need for compression as found with aquatic algal culture systems.
“The technology we have developed is unique in that it not only removes nutrients from wastewater, but recovers them as a valuable product while simultaneously producing easily harvested biomass for fuel production,” said Renewergy president Lucas McConnell.