Graniteville company turning algae into energy

A Graniteville company is working to turn green algae into the next energy source.

Algae Bioenergy Solutions Inc., has been producing algae for six months in a warehouse on Bettis Academy Road, perfecting its process before expanding to a $1.4 million operation.

According to Chuck Pardue, the company’s president, oil can be extracted from the algae and turned into biodiesel. The company is growing algae in 1,800-gallon vats under LED lights. When the algae is mature, the vats are set out to evaporate and the algae residue is scraped out and dried for extraction.

The company is taking things one step at a time, Pardue said, and now that they know they can grow the algae they are moving on to perfect the drying and extraction processes.

“Ultimately, we’d like to replace soybean oil altogether,” he said.

The cost to produce the product has decreased significantly. Three years ago, it cost $500 per ton of algae to extract the oil. Today, the cost is about $10 per ton.

“That’s going to be the key, keeping the cost down,” Pardue said.

Algae grows by consuming carbon dioxide and nutrients and produces oxygen as a byproduct. Algae Bioengery Solutions believes there is great potential in working with industrial companies to turn their carbon dioxide waste into oxygen while feeding the algae and producing green energy.

Pardue is an attorney, specializing in military law, and energy independence is something he believes in strongly.

“It’s going to reduce the cause of a lot of the major wars,” he said. “Rather than just complaining, we’re doing something about it.”

The company will receive some tax credits and incentives from the government, and the Navy is a major supporter of the industry, but Pardue said the company wants to try for self-sufficiency as much as possible.

“We want to do this completely free of subsidies in order to be truly sustainable,” he said.

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