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Loxley trials cultivation of algae for biofuel

May 14. 2012
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By Somluck Srimalee

The Nation

Loxley Plc plans to spend at least Bt1 |billion to develop a facility to cultivate algae for use in biofuels at its Ratchaburi Power Plant in 2014, pending the success of a trial demonstration plant.

The firm expects to launch the demonstration plant on six rai near the Ratchaburi Power Plant in the third quarter of this year, according to Loxley’s vice president for business development, Nattapon Dejcitak.

The company has joined with Bang-chak Petroleum Plc, Ratchaburi Electri-city Generating Holding Plc and the Ener-gy Ministry’s Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency to develop the demonstration plant. The project has a budget of Bt70 million.

The process of producing electricity at Ratchaburi Power Plant produces carbon dioxide (CO2). The demonstration plant would capture the CO2 and use it to cultivate algae for use as a biofuel. Since the process of cultivating algae produces oxygen as a by-product, it is carbon neutral. The system uses technology provided by Australia-based MBD Energy Ltd.

If its demonstration plant is a success, the company will start construction of its pilot project plant on 400 rai close to Ratchaburi Power Plant in 2014. It will have capacity to cultivate about 90,000 kilograms of algae fuel per day, producing total biofuel of about 30,000 litres a day and consuming about 180 tonnes of CO2 a day, or about 10 per cent of the total CO2 produced by the power plant.

"Although it’s only a 10-per-cent reduction in CO2 emissions, this is a pilot project intended to demonstrate that the country can use the technology to reduce CO2 emissions," he said.

He added that this business would generate income from two products: bio-fuel made from algae fuel; and algae waste that can be used to produce food, animal feed and cosmetics.

"We expect return on investment of at least 10 per cent, meaning it will take about 10 years to generate enough return to cover our investment," he said.

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