Iowa Public Television


Green Plains Unveils New Algae Production

posted on October 16, 2009

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Americans looking to Wall Street for signs of an economic recovery witnessed an emotional rally this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 10,000 mark for the first time in a year. But the upward trend on Wall Street dipped by week's end and the Dow settled below the largely symbolic figure on Friday.

The industrial engine of America may be revving up throughout the country. According to Federal Reserve data, third quarter industrial production rose 5.2 percent – it's highest quarterly rise in four years.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration released jobs data this week, claiming the economic stimulus package has created more than 30,000 jobs from $16 billion in government contracts.

A much larger sum, $110 billion, has been funneled to non-profits, as well as state and local governments. California officials claim to have saved 100,000 jobs due to federal stimulus funds.

The White House argues more than 1 million jobs have been created or saved by the stimulus bill but Republicans widely dispute that assessment.

The hotly-debated economic recovery act passed in February with lofty goals and a steep $787 billion price tag. One of the bill's initiatives hopes to generate green jobs and support growth in the renewable energy sector.

But one project in the heart of the nation's Corn Belt is using STATE funds, private capital, and next generation technology to produce its own "green" energy.

Green Plains Unveils New Algae Production

As a seemingly endless stream of corn pours into ethanol plants across the country, one Midwestern biofuel facility revealed a scientific breakthrough this week.

Green Plains Renewable Energy unveiled a next generation source of energy at its Shenandoah, Iowa ethanol plant.

Partnering with CLARCOR Inc, Green Plains Renewable Energy unveiled its algae photobioreactor pilot project in front of dozens of citizens, employees, and public officials.

Gov. Chet Culver, D-Iowa: "This is a great project for Iowa and a great goal for America to remain energy independent."

According to company officials, the energy initiative uses a combination of waste heat, warm water, and CO2 to provide a "perfect environment" for algae production. The once experimental process enables the company to sequester carbon dioxide otherwise emitted by the plant. Algae production could also fuel a number of opportunities for biofuel producers.

Todd Becker, CEO Green Plains Renewable Energy: "This algae could be used for advanced biofuel production, biomass for energy, or high quality animal feed."

The developments at Green Plains Renewable Energy will be one of the many subjects discussed at next week's Market to Market Rural Economic Summit. We'll be taping in Shenandoah, Iowa on October 22nd. It's the first of four special "road editions" examining the rural economy.

We'll assemble a panel of experts and you're invited to join the discussion by submitting your questions at the Market to Market Web site. And to get the conversation started we're asking you the following: How has the economic downturn affected you and your community?

This is your opportunity to visit our website, make your voice heard, and share your concerns about the future of Rural America.


Tags: algae alternative energy biofuels corn ethanol news Rural Economic Summit