The Company Mission
Aquaflow’s aim is to be the leading player in the sustainable and economic Solar Systems Brisbane production of clean water solutions and green crude with other products from wild microalgae.
Aquaflow is based in New Zealand and has been one of the first companies in the world to focus on using wild algae. Aquaflow set out in October 2005 on an ambitious research programme designed to learn how to harvest wild algae from polluted water sources, initially a sewerage treatment pond, and then to try to convert that wild algae into a green crude, valuable chemicals and/or a renewable source of energy. Its mission now is to commercialise these discoveries around the world. Aquaflow recognises that algae provides an excellent area for the focus for renewable energy that does not compete with food and that is plentiful enough to make a real difference. Algae are amongst the fastest growing organisms known. In ideal conditions some species can double their bio-mass in less than a day. The potential of algae as a fuel crop has been recognized for some time, with many species of micro-algae being rich in lipids (materials such as fats, oils, waxes, that have a high hydrocarbon content and are soluble in organic solvents) and are potentially suitable for the production of bio-diesel, other fuels, chemicals and foodstocks.
History of the Company
From 1978-1996, the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Fuels Development funded a program to develop renewable transport fuels from algae. This involved a very substantial investment and that knowledge has been made available publicly. The main focus of the program, known as the “Aquatic Species Program”, was the production of bio-diesel from high lipid content algae grown in ponds using waste carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants.
Aquaflow was founded in 2005 and is an innovation led company which places a great deal of emphasis on Research and Development. During 2007 the Company’s prototype processing plant was constructed and commissioned and the algae harvesting process was scaled up. Today Aquaflow is building a significant portcolio of intellectual property that will allow it to undertake various commercial activities around the world.
For Aquaflow, the attraction of algae was its ability to convert the sun’s energy through photosynthesis many times faster than any land based crop. Algae also has the attraction of not needing large land areas, therefore reducing costs, and not competing with land used for food production as it grows naturally in essentially all open water and wastewater streams. So there were many advantages in using wild micro-algae for conversion. It also has the advantage of being a product that has applications well beyond New Zealand.
The Company therefore began and has continued with a focus on the production and utilisation of existing and prolific sources of algae. Many of the offshore companies seeking to make biofuels from algae are looking at the process of culturing the species of algae that have high lipid yield and are capable of producing more oil. However, Aquaflow regards this form of algae production as much more expensive and faces difficulties scaling the cultivation successfully to reach the commodity levels required for fuel production. The Company therefore opted for the use of wild micro algae which occurs in any nutrient-rich waste stream, as this provided the potential for a lower capital cost and a better distributed system of renewable energy. It also provided the potential for other very important revenue streams (notably remediation and the cleaned water which would make the overall operation viable and profitable). This is Aquaflow’s point of difference.