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August 15, 2013 Issue

Green is gold
Thousands of dollars worth of property unclaimed

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Green is gold

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

In a converted textile plant in Wadley, Chuck Pardue and his partners are keeping a close watch on bubbling tanks filled with green slime.

They started with just a small 50 ml vial of the stuff and for the last several months they’ve been feeding it, installing special skylights that give it just enough sun and watching it grow.

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When conditions are perfect, the ooze will double its mass every day. Pardue’s team is working hard to find out just exactly what perfect is so they can grow as much of it as possible.

To most people it may look like green pond scum, and they’d technically be right, but to Pardue it looks like the future…biodiesel-based jet fuel and nutraceuticals (dietary supplements).

“I’m retired military and years ago I determined there’s no sense sending our children overseas to fight for oil, so I started working towards the goal of being energy independent probably around 2004,” Pardue said. That’s when he started researching biofuels.

His first project involved soybean oil, and he got as far as a plant in Warrenville, SC, before fuel stock prices drove him to look for an alternative crop. That’s when he turned to algae.

The Wadley Plant
“We got these tanks running, just this week,” Pardue said last month on the day he invited community members in to get a peek at the plant. “Some of them we started a few weeks ago and they’re at various stages of growth.”

Large tanks of varying shades of green bubble away behind him. The darker the water, the more algae growth it has seen.

Pardue, along with VP of Operations Thomas Anhorn, have been working to convert the old Wadley textile plant into Algae Bioenergy Solutions, Inc. (ABS) since the first of the year, adapting the air compressor system and assembling tanks and all the piping.

“Right now we have 12 growth tanks in this building,” Pardue, ABS’ president, said. “We’ll probably end up with 60 indoors and another 1,000 outdoors on the site.”

That’s the capacity for a lot of algae. And according to Pardue, that’s what it takes when you want to use this simple little water-dwelling plant for big projects like producing biofuel.

“What we will do at this site is grow the algae, separate the water, dry the algae and end up with this powder, and they can further pulverize it,” Ahorn explained. “The lipid part, which is about 30 percent, can be processed into biodiesel or into the feedstock to make jet fuel.”

The Slime itself
“Algae is really amazing and epic,” said Phillip Ranglin, ABS’ microbiologist. “It actually has the potential to replace crude oil. That’s the beauty of it.”

One of the most basic life forms, algae is a primary producer and sits at the base of nature’s trophic pyramid. It takes in sunlight, carbon dioxide and wastes like nitrogen and phosphates. And while it grows it both feeds fish and small animals as well as releases oxygen back into the environment.

“The closer we can stay to this part (of the trophic pyramid) the more energy we can extract,” Ranglin explained. “As you go up those trophic levels you lose energy. Biodiesel can be made from animal fat, but it requires more energy (to extract it).”

Not only is algae cheaper and easier to grow than other fuel crops, it does not currently compete with food crops like corn and soy.

“That’s one thing that gave biodiesel a bad rap…that it would potentially drive up the prices,” Ranglin said.

Algae doesn’t have that problem.

“When Chuck and I really got involved, it was a biofuels plant and at that moment the feed stock was soybean oil, but he said algae oil is really where the industry is going to go,” said Anhorn. “At that point in time colleges and universities didn’t really have studies that were specific in algae growth. Now if you look over the past two or three years, you’ve got engineers specializing in algae.”

And the more serious universities take it, the more they study it. The more they study it the more they find out.

“It’s only just now becoming economical because of some major recent advances, like for us, the identification of a fast-growing species that is hardy enough,” Anhorn said.

While it may look like the same green ooze that grows in your cattle trough, it isn’t. Not exactly. Their slime is special.

“We’ve tried other algae species but what we are growing now is an isolated species developed by University of Georgia microbiologists,” Pardue said. “They have a patent on this species and we have the exclusive right to develop it.”

Primarily, this algae, which is native to Georgia Pardue said, is super-fast growing.

“This particular species is a lot different than what you find in your typical pool,” Pardue said. “It’s a natural species. It’s not a GMO (genetically modified organism), but it’s one of the fastest growing algaes that they have discovered so far. University of Georgia worked on a project in Dalton, Ga. two years to isolate and determine which species was ideal for Georgia’s climate.”

Different algaes in different parts of the world grow better or worse based on the local conditions.

“And Wadley is terrific because we are pretty far south and ultimately we’re going to take advantage of as much sun power as we can to lower the overall cost of growing it.”

The Products
“In our first year we will probably focus on the development of nutraceuticals,” Pardue said. “Basically (algae) has super antioxidents in it, DHA, Omega 3s, Omega 6 and other products that promote health. Some of the algae species are now being used in baby formula. They are using it in vitamins, adding it to milk. Just a whole host of different uses for it. It’s very high value if you can grow it properly, etc. That’s what we’ll probably focus on initially. Ultimately what we want to do is make a biofuel from the algae.”

Ahorn said that drinks and supplements in nutritional stores often have algae-based products.

“We’re going to have our own brand, because we’re going to have our own algae with what we think has even better nutritional value,” Ahorn said.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Pardue said Ranglin will soon be taking dried samples of their current algae to labs to get specific information on their nutrient levels.

“We’re still in the experimental stage,” Pardue said. “We’re still adding pieces of equipment and working on maximizing growth.”

He said he expects to take the dietary supplement aspect of the business to market in the next four to six months.

“No later than January,” he said.

The biofuel aspect is further down the road.

Still, Pardue and Ahorn talk about U.S. government contracts in other states supporting the use of algae oil as well as major airlines who get incentives for a percentage of their fuel being renewable.

“Algae oil-based jet fuel has an extremely low cold flow, in other words it won’t clog at low temperatures,” Pardue explained. “If you made biodiesel out of algae, you could make B100 and have a lower cold flow than diesel. Diesel can go to 5 or 10 degrees, this goes to sub zero. That’s why they need it for jets.”

The Future of the Site
According to Pardue, one reason most people have not heard more about algae plants is the high infrastructure costs involved.

“This site has everything we need and in the future will have even more stuff that we can use,” Pardue said.

He currently has plans to partner with the proposed NorthStar Energy project that will be burning primarily wood waste to produce electricity. Engineering has already been done for the power plant to use Wadley gray water in their process. The line for that gray water runs across the back of the ABS site.

“They will clean the water, drop it back in the stream, but it will still have some nitrates and phosphates in it,” Pardue said. “What we will be doing here is taking out most of the rest of the nitrates and phosphates to grow the algae. It benefits them because the water that they are discharging will be even cleaner and we need the nutrients to grow the algae.

“In conjunction with that, the power plant will producing something else we need to grow alage and that’s a lot of CO2. So we’ve been talking to their engineers about the possibility of taking a significant portion of their CO2 and their NOx gases from their flue. Using the same trench that they are running that water line so that we can get the CO2 and also some heated water so we can run 12 months a year.”

Warmer water means that in the colder months, the algae will grow better, faster

“We won’t take all of their emissions, but we can reduce their emissions substantially,” Pardue said.

Once the power plant is in operation and they have access to its carbon dioxide output and the gray water loop from the city’s waste water plant to the power plant is complete, giving ABS access to that nutrient rich water, Pardue expects to see a lot more growth tanks at the Wadley site.

“We’re going to use the CO2 and algae will clean the city’s water, it’s going to be good for everybody,” Pardue said.

Once these additions are in place, Pardue feels ABS will have the capacity to start growing algae at a rate that they will be able to look at the biofuel and bioplastics markets.

“That’s the ultimate goal,” Pardue said. “The indoor tanks will be used for the neutraceuticals and the outdoor tanks will be used for biofuels.”

When the entire site is developed, it could employ between 100 and 150 people, Pardue said.

Until then, the tanks bubble, the algae grows and Wadley waits for Pardue’s dream dream to rise from the primordial soup.




Thousands of dollars worth of property unclaimed

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A lot of hype surrounding the idea of unclaimed property may make the idea seem farfetched, foolish or even a scam.

However, the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) has a page on its website where people can look, at no cost, to see if there is unclaimed property being held by the state.

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A quick look at www.dor.ga.gov shows individuals as well as businesses and government entities on the list.

Besides individuals, the listings include several for Jefferson Hospital and the county’s board of education.

In Glascock County, there are at least two for Hamburg State Park.

To search, visit the website and click on, “Search for Unclaimed Property,” on a navigation bar on the left. On the next page, there are three options. Clicking on the box with, “Search for Unclaimed Property,” will take a user to a search engine where a name and location are entered.

A recent visit indicated some problems with the search process; but, there is a number to call for more information; although, you will need the property ID number. This is provided after searching the data base.

You can use an online request to have the DOR a form to be sent to you in order to request the property. Sometimes an error occurs, but a number, 855-329-9863, is listed to call for assistance.

In addition, unclaimed property may be held for an estate.

You should search under each last name you have used and in each city where you have lived.

Nick Genesi, a spokesman with DOR, said the database has been available for people to search for five or six years.

Currently, the DOR does not have a count or an estimate of how many listings there are, he said.

“The vast majority of listings are for individuals,” Genesi said. “The department holds intangible property, cash and stocks; and contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes.”

Genesi said examples of the types of property held by the department are unpaid wages, unclaimed checking or savings accounts, utility deposits, refunds due and insurance proceeds.

Holders or businesses of unclaimed property report every year any property held for a customer that has reached what Genesi called “the legal dormancy period.”

For payroll or commissions, the time is one year.

“Other property types – five years,” he said. “The report should provide owner information and the dollar amount owed to each lost owner. A payment to the department will accompany each holder report.”

It typically takes about six weeks for a request to claim the property to be processed by the department, he said.

Genesi said the department periodically generates owner lists for local governments who then may place owner names in local newspapers.

There is no time limit to how long unclaimed property stays with the department.

“The department acts as custodian for the lost owner and holds the property indefinitely for the owner or legal heirs,” Genesi said.

Genesi said anyone interested in checking the database for unclaimed property may call their customer service number, 855-329-9863. You can request a claim form online at www.etax.dor.ga.gov if you find your name, business or agency listed.

“We comply with claim requests only when the actual owner is requesting the claim form,” Genesi said.







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