Extracting oil from algae is one of the more costly steps in producing fuel from algae. A method of efficient oil extraction is critical to making algae fuel cost competitive with fossil fuels. Yesterday, OriginOil, a company in Los Angeles, announced the filing of its fourth patent for a method of extracting oil from algae called Quantum Fracturing.
OriginOil's latest invention builds on the company's first patent, Quantum Fracturing, in which ultrasound from intense fluid fracturing breaks down algae cells much in the same way a high-frequency sound wave breaks glass. In the new patent filing, the flowing algae biomass is first sent through a shielded wave guide system where it receives low-wattage, frequency-tuned microwave bursts, breaking the cell walls. Quantum Fracturing is then applied to these pre-cracked cells to complete the oil extraction. The result is a system that makes low-energy and environmentally-safe algae oil production a reality.It would be great to know the actual cost of this method of extracting oil from algae in contrast to the more common methods of expeller and/or solvent.
"High energy and operating costs defeat the goal of a cost-effective alternative to petroleum", commented Paul Reep, OriginOil's senior technical advisor. He continued, "The OriginOil extraction system is effective, safe and energy-efficient. I'm proud of the team of lead inventor Steven Shigematsu and co-inventor Nicholas Eckelberry, who have demonstrated, once again, their ability to combine lateral thinking with solid engineering advances."