Al­gae Firm Eye­ing Plant In Poamoho

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Front Page - By SARAH PACHECO

Phy­cal Hawaii has pro­posed a $65 mil­lion pi­lot project on 40 acres of for­mer pineap­ple plan­ta­tion land in Wahi­awa. The project’s aim is to de­ter­mine whether al­gae is a fea­si­ble crop for large-scale en­ergy pro­duc­tion in Hawaii.

The 30-day pe­riod for pub­lic com­ment on the pro­posal be­gan June 23.

The Ohio-based en­ergy com­pany plans to pro­duce al­gal oil by grow­ing mi­cro al­gae in shal­low, open pools. Once re­fined, oil ex­tracted from the al­gae can be used to pro­duce diesel and jet fuel as well as fuel for power-plant tur­bines. An­other byprod­uct is a light petroleum gas that can be used to make hy­dro­gen fuel.

The pro­posed test fa­cil­ity, lo­cated on land in Poamoho leased by de­vel­oper Peter Savio of Hawai­ian Is­land Homes, will in­clude shal­low ponds for al­gae growth, a pro­cess­ing build­ing for ex­trac­tion of oil, an anaer­o­bic digester for con­ver­sion of biomass to meth­ane gas, and wa­ter treat­ment ca­pa­bil­ity.

Re­claimed waste wa­ter for the ponds will be fed from a nearby sewage treat­ment plant, and CO2 waste, a key in­gre-

di­ent in al­gae growth, will be trucked from the Te­soro re­fin­ery in Kapolei. Ac­cord­ing to a hand­out from Phy­cal pres­i­dent Kevin Berner to the North Shore Neigh­bor­hood Board in Fe­bru­ary, the only waste made would be sludge, which will be put back into the soil.

If suc­cess­ful, the ini­tia­tive could help the state move close to its goal of ob­tain­ing 70 per­cent of its en­ergy from clean, re­new­able sources by 2030. Con­struc­tion is slated to be­gin as soon as midOc­to­ber or by early 2011. The project will run for four years and is ex­pected to pro­duce more than 100,000 gal­lons of al­gal oil a year. It will em­ploy 30-plus “high-tech farm­ers,” of which 20 will be lo­cal and about 15 will be brought in from around the world. Res­i­dents also are look­ing to get Wa­ialua High stu­dents in­volved, as there may be job pos­si­bil­i­ties for them in the fu­ture.

A ma­jor­ity of the bud­get — around $50 mil­lion — will be spent in Hawaii.

Send com­ments to Phy­cal Hawaii R& D, Seven Water­front Plaza, Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 400, Honolulu, HI 96813. Mail copies to the state Depart­ment of Busi­ness, Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment and Tourism, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804, and to Group 70 In­ter­na­tional Inc., 925 Bethel St., 5th Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813.

(from left) Stacy Hol­brook (call sign KH6OWL), Janna Arakaki, Chris Colquhoun (NH7QH) and Wayne Green­leaf (KH6MEI) use a home­made an­tenna and 500 watts of power to make ra­dio con­tact to test dis­as­ter readi­ness. They were par­tic­i­pat­ing in Hawaii Emer­gency Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club’s Na­tional Field Day ex­er­cise June 26 at Wahi­awa LDS church on Leile­hua Road. Photo from Gary M’s Cre­ations.

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