Algae Energy is betting on green — both in sustainability and as a business model

Cumming algae business touts environmental efforts on tour of facility



CUMMING, Ga. — What Algae Energy has produced at their 70,000-square-foot facility in Forsyth County is nothing short of extraordinary.

Fuel and food produced from algae.

On Oct. 31, the company gave a tour of their facility and laboratories to about 40 representatives from the Paris Region Economic Development Agency known as Hubstart Paris. The group was in Atlanta as part of the Sustainable Airports Areas International Seminar to learn about innovative sustainable development.

The tour of the facility was organized by the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce and the Green Chamber of Commerce.

“Our community is a global leader in the areas of innovation and sustainability,” said James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber. “We were the first community in the nation to develop a property tax abatement program for green businesses and we are thrilled to support Algae Energy’s partnership with the Sustainable Airport Areas International Seminar.”

Algae Energy, also known as Algae Tec, showed off their shipping container modules that are used primarily to lower the output of carbon dioxide (CO2) gases in the atmosphere from factory pollution.

Tray McConchie, business manager for Algae Energy, said the company makes use of CO2 gases from industry waste from their clients who face taxation and governing pressures around the world.

“We take their CO2, pipe it into our system to grow our algae and from there, we can do several methods of extraction to produce oil and various products,” McConchie said.

In addition to making algae into fuel for cars and airplanes, algae can also be used as food for livestock.

Algae Energy has partnered with Georgia Tech to test their high-yield protein as feed stock.

Georgia is one of the largest poultry producers in the world.

In Sri Lanka, Algae Energy is helping lower the CO2 output from a large cement manufacturer, while in Australia, they are working to make ethanol by displacing wheat.

“It depends on the end customer,” McConchie said. “If we have an agreement with an airline that wants to take our high lipid oil to make jet engine kerosene, they don’t care about high protein feed stocks, they want the oil.”

At their facility, 2460 Industrial Park Blvd., workers are testing and innovating algae technology. They are also manufacturing 40-foot shipping containers retrofitted with equipment able to capture carbon pollution from power stations and manufacturing facilities that feed into the algae growth system.

“We deal primarily with microscopic algae,” said Earl McConchie, the company’s executive director. “It grows at phenomenal rate.”

Earl said it takes a little bit of nutrients, water, energy from the sun or artificial light and carbon dioxide.

“It’s our responsibility to keep them happy,” said Earl inside their laboratory where hundreds of different species are tested.

At their facility, they also test competitive technology.

“We want to compare our technology to come up with the optimal design,” he said.

People believe that you can grow algae effectively by digging a hole and putting water in it, he said.

“If you look at my pool in my backyard, that’s probably a pretty good statement,” he said.

But the drawback to that sort of algae is that it’s open to the elements, from bird droppings to cold nights, warm nights and droughts.

“Our system is completely enclosed,” Earl said. “We control everything.”

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