Suriname and US-based company launch renewable fuel project

In a bid to diversify the country’s energy base, Suriname has entered into an agreement with US-based PetroAlgae (PA) to establish farms for the production of renewable fuel and protein.

Participants in the project are the ministry of Natural Resources, state-owned oil company Staatsolie, United Culture Companies (VCM) and Florida-based bio-tech company PetroAlgae. On Monday, participants signed the master framework and initial licence agreement to begin an open growth bioreactor for renewable fuels and protein.

Within the next four months the phased construction and operation of a commercial-scale, PetroAlgae farm for the production of renewable fuel and protein will take place at Rust-en-Werk, in the Commewijne district. Planning and funding for the initial phase is underway utilizing PetroAlgae’s micro-crop system and licensed technology. Given the expertise of all participants, Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Hok, said that “this project cannot fail”.

At the signing ceremony it was disclosed that Staatsolie will serve as the lead coordinator for the ministry, while VCM and Staatsolie will be responsible for construction and operation of the project. PetroAlgae will contribute the use and limited licence to certain of its PA intellectual property and technology as well as supporting services and quality assurance.

“This is a project that PetroAlgae is very proud and excited to be working with the government of Suriname and so we applaud the vision of the ministry here and we’re also excited to be working with VCM as well as Staatsolie,” said PetroAlgae’s executive vice-president Harold Gubnitsky in an invited comment.

“So I think we have a very unique team in the world, but certainly in the region to take the technology that we’re developing and deploying and bring it to commercialization here,” he added.

In this pilot project, dubbed the “Lemna Growth Confirmation Project,” a facility is being established to study the growth and fuel production capacity of duckweed (lemna).

VCM president Armand van Alen noted that the project will be environmental friendly and neutral since duckweed is a common species in Suriname. He further disclosed that the protein from the duckweed will be processed into animal feed while the residue will be the source for the bio-fuel. Initially, the project is being established in a small area, but successively will expand to 50 hectares and 5,000 hectares.

“We take indigenous crops, indigenous plant species that we studied for many years and put them into our system and technology so that it grows very rapidly and then we process that in a special way that allows us to create a fuel source. A renewable fuel source and at the same time a very valuable food source. So it’s energy in two forms: fuel and food,” the vice-president explained.

Gubnitsky further noted that this is the first project of this nature in the Caribbean.


Source: Caribbean News Now