OriginOil, Inc. (OriginOil) is a Los Angeles company developing a full range of technologies to improve the processes of algae growth and oil extraction.Â OriginOil’s methods may substantially reduce the amount of energy necessary to extract oil from algae (see the Matter Network story here).
Unlike some algae biodiesel companies who only focus on the extraction step, OriginOil’s innovations span a much broaderÂ approach.Â Â The company’sÂ suite of technologies is covered by several pending patent applications, which “apply to the whole life cycle of algae production, not just extraction” according to OriginOil’s President and CEO Riggs Eckelberry.Â
OriginOil’sÂ U.S. Patent Application Pub. No. 2009/0029445 (‘445 application), is entitled “Algae growth system for oil production” and is directed to systems for growth and processing of microorganisms such as micro-algae.Â
The systems attempt to duplicate the optimum natural growth promoting environment for algae, including thorough exposure to carbon dioxide, growth promoting admixtures, exposure to light and extraction.
TheÂ key to this Quantum FracturingÂ process is breaking downÂ water, carbon dioxide and other nutrients into micron-sized bubbles.Â The increased surface area of these bubbles facilitates high absorption of carbon dioxide and nutrients by micro-algae during the growth phase.
Several as yet unpublished patent applications are directed to other aspects of OriginOil’s algae technology, including:
an application filed in 2008 directed to the Helix Bioreactor, whichÂ optimizes delivery of light to algae by providing light at closely spaced intervals within a photobioreactor;
an application filed in 2008 directed to the company’s Modular and Scalable Growth System, which facilitates large scale algae production through stacking of multiple Helix Bioreactors into an integratedÂ network; and
an application filed this year directed to a Single-step Extraction Process, which combines Quantum Fracturing with electromagneticsÂ and pH modification to break down cell walls and extract oil in one step.
OriginOil recently announced the filing of an international or PCT patent application, which Mr. Eckelberry said combines several of the company’s technologies and is nowÂ its consolidated “lead application” going forward.Â
With this holistic approach, EckelberryÂ said OriginOil’s business model is to help other companies make algae and provide full support for its customers producingÂ the oil.Â The company’s new partnerships include oneÂ with Desmet Ballestra andÂ one with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, wherein the latter will team with OriginOil on algae scalability issues.