Alternative Fuel and Transportation

Published on August 27th, 2009 | by Derek Markham


New Technology Milks Algae for Oil

A new cost-effective, high speed manufacturing process for extracting oil from algae, called ‘Live Extraction™’ has been developed by OriginOil. This breakthrough technology has the potential to provide an endless supply of cost-competitive and environment-friendly oil to displace petroleum, says the company.

Image: Public DomainAlgae


OriginOil’s Live Extraction™, or milking, achieves continuous production of algae oil without destroying the algae cell, and is inherently efficient because a single algae cell can now produce more oil during its lifetime using lower amounts of energy. The company’s process does not employ expensive consumables like other live extraction techniques such as reverse osmosis membranes, and is not limited to oil-bearing algae strains, such as Botryococcus braunii.

Algae Live Extraction

Algae Live Extraction

Algae oil is typically protected behind a tough cell wall, and the challenge of live extraction is to harvest that oil without causing permanent damage to the algae cell. This has been achieved in the lab by OriginOil and is now being scaled up to an intermediate 200-gallon tank size for further testing.

“Live Extraction works by stimulating the algae cells through specific electrical modulations. The challenge is how to keep the cells alive while continuously extracting the oil, and we have achieved this.” – Riggs Eckelberry, CEO of OriginOil

OriginOil has applied for a patent for the new Live Extraction process, entitled “Procedure for Extraction of Lipids from Algae without Cell Sacrifice.” The new ‘milking’ process will be joined with the company’s Cascading Production™ technique for increased efficiencies.

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

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