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$5.5 Million Grant Keeps Maalaea Algae Plant On Track for 2014

Posted May 4, 2011, 12:59 PM HST Updated May 4, 2011, 03:10 PM HST
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Cellana LLC is positioned to be the first algae company to ramp up to commercial deployment for a biofuel application in Hawaii. This commercial algae facility would also represent one of the first of its kind in the United States. Photo courtesy of Cellana.

By Sonia Isotov

Cellana LLC, a subsidiary of Hawaii-based HR BioPetroleum, will receive a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a joint statement released by Hawaii Senators Inouye, Senator Akaka, and Conresswoman Hirono today.

The grant will be used by Cellana LLC to produce affordable animal feed from marine algae in order to aid the large-scale production of feedstocks for biofuels, aquaculture and other animal feeds.

For the past several years, HR BioPetroleum has been evaluating sites in Hawaii to deploy a commercial-scale algae facility. In 2008, a memoranda of understanding was signed between Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., Hawaiian Electric Company and Maui Electric Company, subsidiaries of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. to pursue joint development of a commercial algae facility on land adjacent to Maui Electric’s Ma’alaea power plant.

“With world oil prices rising, and Hawaii’s already high energy costs, Cellana is looking toward providing a commercially viable supply of renewable biofuel,” noted Martin Sabarsky, Cellana’s chief executive officer, in a statement released by Cellana yesterday. “It is a pioneering effort with tremendous potential, and we are now looking at 2014 for the construction and operation of this transformational facility on Maui.”

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The company says that all critical elements of the company’s algae cultivation technology have been demonstrated at the company’s six acre facility in Kona and will be incorporated at the company’s first commercial plant in Maalaea, Maui.

“In Hawaii there is tremendous potential to research, develop and implement new and forms of biofuel and sustainable food supplies,” said Senator Inouye. “I would like to laud Cellana’s efforts to move Hawaii away from the use of imported fossil fuels while developing innovative new products from one of our most readily available resources.”

“With great potential to be a sustainable source for biofuel production, this technology is well-suited to our state’s location and expertise,” said Senator Akaka.

“Cellana has won a grant that will address one of the most limiting factors affecting local chicken, pig, dairy, and aquaculture production—the availability of affordable feed. The cost of importing feed has led to the closure of a number of poultry and dairy operations in Hawaii. Cellana is a forward-looking company focused on both Hawaii’s energy and food security needs. I commend and congratulate them,” said Congresswoman Mazie Hirono.

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