GPRE receives approval for R&D grant

By Jessica Ebert | April 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted April 21, 2008 at 11:41 a.m. CST

Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc., an Omaha, Neb.-based company that operates a 50 MMgy corn ethanol plant in Shenandoah, Iowa, announced April 14 it has received preliminary approval for a $2.3 million grant to fund research and development of algae production for biofuels.

The approval came from the Iowa Power Fund which promotes energy independence in the state. The grant would allow Green Plains, in cooperation with GreenFuel Technology Corp., a Mass.-based venture-backed firm with expertise in algae-based biofuels, to conduct a 195-day test to determine the viability of algae production at the Green Plain's Shenandoah plant. By siphoning carbon dioxide from the plant to feed the growth of algae, the company estimates it can grow 17.6 pounds of algal biomass each day.

"Algae production compliments ethanol production," said Wayne Hoovestol, chief executive officer of Green Plains. "The algae project involves recycling heat and water while mitigating carbon dioxide. Additionally, there is strong evidence to suggest that Iowa has ideal environmental conditions for commercial algae production."

If the test is successful, the project could be expanded for feasibility and commercialization.

"We are especially excited about the Green Plains project because of the natural synergies between the algae and ethanol industries," said Cary Bullock, vice president of business development for GreenFuel Technology. "The Green Plains project provides an opportunity to use an operational ethanol plant to further the body of knowledge of algae-based biofuels."