Shell and HR Biopetroleum have formed a joint venture company, called Cellana, to develop this project, with Shell taking the majority share. Construction of the demonstration facility on the Kona coast of Hawaii Island will begin immediately.
The facility will grow only non-modified, marine microalgae species in open-air ponds using proprietary technology. Algae strains used will be indigenous to Hawaii or approved by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Protection of the local environment and marine ecosystem has been central to facility design. Once the algae are harvested, the vegetable oil will be extracted. The facility’s small production volumes will be used for testing.
An advantage of algae is their rapid growth. They can double their mass several times a day and produce at least 15 times more oil per hectare than alternatives such as rape, palm soya or jatropha. Over the long term, algae cultivation facilities also have the potential to absorb or ‘capture’ waste CO2 directly from industrial facilities such as power plants.
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