An Eastern Shore company that has met with some success turning algae into crude oil has shut down its research facility in Daphne.
Algae Systems officials said the Daphne location was always meant as a research center. Now, Rob McElroy says the company is at a point where they need to analyze their findings and push forward with a commercial venture.
Algae Systems uses algae to clean waste water. By doing that, the algae grows from the nutrients of the waste water. The algae can then be converted into crude oil or renewable fuel. McElroy says his company’s process is unique. A number of people have been successful turning algae into oil, but using waste water as food for the algae is a new twist.
He says now company officials are entertaining interest from at least one large, yet undisclosed company interested in the process. They are also looking at at least two locations for a start up commercial venture.
The algae is grown in large plastic bags on the water. In the case of the research center in Daphne, they are located on about an acre of Mobile Bay. A commercial facility would be much larger says McElroy–perhaps 50 to 100 acres.
He also expects the Daphne research facility to reopen at some point, to support the commercial venture. The company hopes to have those plans in place by late 2016 or early 2017.