A new Augusta manufacturing plant will grow its first batches of algae next month to turn into biodiesel.
“The predominant use in the United States is to use soybean oil,” said Chuck Pardue, president of Algae Bioenergy Solutions. “However, soybean oil, for a variety of factors, is very expensive to be used as a feedstock.”
The facility will start with a handful of workers producing about 40,000 gallons of algae oil, but as the plant grows over the next two years, 200 employees will make up to 10 million gallons.
Pardue said years of federal research and advances in technology have made algae oil commercially viable.
“By selling our dry product as animal feed or other products, we will be able to produce oil at under $2 a gallon,” he said. “This will ensure that we will not be dependent on subsidies in the future.
“This [process] can be sustainable.”
Pardue said it cost as much as $35 per gallon to make algae oil in early efforts at the process.
Pardue also said he is looking at sites in Macon, Milledgeville and Louisville for similar plants.