MARYSVILLE, Ohio -- A technological breakthrough that dramatically reduces the cost of removing water from algae -- making algae an economically feasible source of fuel -- was announced today by AlgaeVenture Systems following a demonstration of the process to collaborators and funding sources.

"For nearly 40 years, it has been widely accepted that if the cost of removing, harvesting and dewatering algae could be reduced to $50 a ton, algae could become a significant source of fuel," said Ross Youngs, CEO of Univenture, parent corporation of AlgaeVenture Systems.

"We have demonstrated a truly disruptive technology that reduces that cost by more than 99 percent -- from $875 per ton to $1.92 per ton," Youngs said. "This breakthrough moves algae back into the spotlight as an economically viable, plentiful source of fuel."

AlgaeVenture Systems' breakthrough comes at a time of rising interest in algae. The Department of Energy originally studied algae as an alternative energy source after the 1970s oil embargo, but determined that even though algae offered significant capability to produce biofuels, the cost was prohibitive. The DOE ended its algae program in 1996, but interest was revived when oil reached record prices in 2008.

Univenture established AlgaeVenture Systems to address the growth of algae in industrial and agricultural areas in Ohio and other Midwest areas that demonstrated opportunities for algae farms to be located near existing waste and water sources, creating opportunities to develop a variety of products -- including fuels -- while cleaning up land and water waste.

The company focuses on manufacturing and installing simplified greenhouse ponds near power plants, wastewater plants, farm waste facilities, food processing plants and other locations where the geography and climate support algae growth year-round.

"Algae farmers can grow food, feed or fuel, and can change crops and be ready for harvest in less than 20 days," Youngs said. "Algae can protect fuel supplies because it can be grown virtually anywhere in the United States, and can benefit national security by decentralizing the fuel supply and reducing our dependence on foreign oil."

AlgaeVenture Systems' technology - developed by studying processes that exist in nature - utilizes a variety of methods of moving water, including capillary effect, cohesion, absorption and transpiration pull - the method used by trees and plants to move water from their roots to the highest growth, often hundreds of feet straight up.

"The process is counterintuitive," Youngs said, "because with so much water and so little algae, it is natural to want to move the algae. But moving water instead is very efficient, and all water is recycled."

AlgaeVenture Systems' prototype is scalable and portable, and can be custom made to a customer's specifications. While designed specifically for microalgae, the invention is applicable to several other separating and dewatering applications.

SOURCE: Univenture Inc. via PR Newswire.