U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld recognized Kuehnle AgroSystems for the company’s innovative work in producing algae for use in biofuels as part of the Pacific Southwest region’s environmental awards program. “EPA is pleased to recognize Kuehnle AgroSystems for its innovative techniques that can turn a tank of algae into a tank of gas,” Blumenfeld said. “This clean-tech company’s work on renewable biofuels will help make Hawaii energy self-sufficient, and it protects the quality of our air, water and land.”
The EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Groups and individuals were selected from nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and community activists.
Most biofuels used as replacements for oil are grown on large tracts of agricultural land, but algae has the potential to produce a high density, efficient biofuel feedstock on industrial land. Kuehnle AgroSystems, a Hawaii-based company, has built a system to continuously produce algae for biofuel.
Their system pipes carbon dioxide and wastewater from an oil refinery into tanks that accelerate algae growth, and demonstrate emission reductions. In November 2011 their project, constructed at Chevron’s Hawaii oil refinery, successfully achieved the nation’s first connection of industrial CO2 from an oil refinery with a working algae production site.
In addition, to demonstrating its technology in partnership with Chevron, the company also has done significant work with the U.S. military to grow algae for biofuels. Kuehnle also works on overseas biofuels operations, aquaculture farms for shrimp and fish, and companies such as General Atomics, which operates a large algae production facility on the island of Kauai using algae sourced from Kuehnle.