EcoponexTM is a revolutionary new Controlled Environment Agricultural production system that locally supplies healthy fresh food, renewable energy, and clean water and air while addressing important socio-economic and environmental issues facing large cities, rural communities and farms raising dairy cattle and other livestock.
The technology is based upon sound science and proven technologies with a profound understanding of the Food – Energy – Water Nexus facing our planet.
It represents the first of its kind technology to be designed as a totally self-reliant “Living Machine” with a closed-loop process that is a quantum leap in productivity at 50 times or more than traditional crop farming while using a fraction (less than 5%) of the water and land area. Thus making it perhaps the most productive food system in the world.
It has been designed as a highly integrated Biological Refinery where the outputs of upstream processes (or unit operations) become the inputs to a downstream processes without creating needless loss or waste of resources or discharges to the environment; all of which is designed as an entirely closed-loop system and optimized for utility and resource efficiency and maximum productivity.
Design of Integrated Process
- Process Integration – we’ve utilized a unique and powerful analytical modeling tool called “Process Integration” to engineer the entire system for optimized cost efficiency, to maximize product yields and to minimize inputs that achieve highest profitability.
- Biological Refining Technology – The company has created a proprietary patent pending biological refining technology made up of individual process unit operations or building-blocks that have been uniquely integrated into a robust self-reliant system.
- Ecoponex manages system risk by using proven stand-alone technologies.
- Synergies between technologies were identified and used as advantages for improving efficiency.
- Integration of technology was then optimized for performance and to reduce capital and operating cost.
Modeling and Evaluation
- The integrated Ecoponex Process was initially modeled by a chemical engineering team headed by Dr. Mahmoud El-Halwagi’s atTexas A&M University.
- National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden Colorado conducted a high-level techno-economic evaluation of processes.
- They sponsored 3-day workshop for US and EU technology and engineering design team.
- And they prepared report documenting preliminary findings and recommendations for improving system performance.
PLATFORM OF PROVEN TECHNOLOGIES IN ECOPONEX SYSTEM
The Company utilizes a suite of proven best-in-class food, energy and water technologies that have been integrated into our proprietary Ecoponex system and REEF facilities. When combined we create an elegant and robust closed-loop process that is optimized for efficiency to control operating costs and maximize profitability. The main technologies we utilize in our Ecoponex system include:
- Hydroponic Greenhouses for Herb/Vegetable Crops and Animal Feeds – using recycled CO2 and organic nutrients to enhance the growth of crops for human consumption and silage grains for animal feed.
- Hydroponic Greenhouses for Micro-Algae Crops using advanced photo-bio-reactors (PBRs) with state-of-the-art LED lighting technology and the recycling of CO2 and organic nutrients to stimulate algae growth rates.
- Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) to raise warm or cold water fin fish or shell fish species in fresh or sale water controlled enviroments.
- Bio-catalytic Anaerobic Digester Technology to produce higher yields of methane rich biogas from a variety of organic waste steams (manure, waste food, paper/wood, etc.)
- Sun-Engine Energy System to generate power, heating and cooling using high temperature (204oC/400oF) flat plate concentrating solar collectors to drive a low temperature (70oC/172oF) heat engine to efficiency produce electricity.
- Bio-Filtration and Aquaponic Systems to biologically treat captured rain water and wastewater produced by the fish and digestion process using plant and algae crops. We also have a proprietary bio-desalination process to convert salt water to drinking water.
World-Class Technology Licenses
Ecoponex has acquired certain licensing rights to the following proprietary technologies:
- Algae System – For cultivation, harvesting and biorefining of algae and diatom species for high value nutraceutical products.
- Anaerobic Digester System – A high-rate conversion of organic wastes and cellulosic biomass into methane rich biogas fuel using bio-catalytic anaerobic digester process.
- Solar Thermal Energy Power System - For generating low cost electricity and heating or cooling energy using concentrating solar thermal collector system with high efficiency low temperature heat engine.
Bio-Catalytic Digester Technology
A key unit operation in our Ecoponex system is the proprietary bio-catalytic anaerobic digester technology we utilize to convert a wide variety of organic feedstocks into methane-rich biogas fuel. This carbon neutral biofuel is used to generate electricity to make our REEF facility totally energy self-sufficient. Any excess “green” power is sold at a premium to the local utility grid. Or we purify and compress the excess biogas as fuel to run vehicles or sell it to the pipeline as higher value “renewable natural gas”. Other important features of our biogas energy system include: recovering waste heat for heating, cooling and refrigeration of the REEF plant; capturing and sequestering CO2 to enhance the growth of plant crops and algae; and separating the nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous (N-P), from the digester effluent stream (digestate) to be recycled as a “mineralized” organic fertilizer grow crops.
The advantages of our bio-catalytic digester energy system include:
- 100%+/- increase in biogas yield over conventional digester processes without using expensive co-products e.g. FOG (e.g. fats, oils, greases) or sugars (e.g. corn, beats) to boost production
- Reducing digestion time to 10-20 days depending on type of feedstock
- Converting 90% or more of carbon bearing volatile solids to biogas at 60% to 80% methane (CH4)
- Is the 1st process in world that we are aware of to convert wood cellulose into methane gas
- Is comparable in capital and operating costs with conventional systems
- Tests have been performed on multiple feedstocks to confirm biogas yields from cow manure, food waste, sewage sludge, soft wood, paper/card board
Sun-Engine Energy Technology
To supplement the energy needs of our REEF facilities, Ecoponex uses a new Sun-Engine Energy System to generate continuous power, heating and cooling 16 to 24 hours a day. The Sun-Engine Energy System uses high temperature (204oC/400oF) flat plate concentrating solar collectors to drive a low temperature (70oC/172oF) heat engine to efficiency produce electricity. The heat engine uses a unique patented Decompression Cycle Generator (DCG) to produce carbon-free electricity.
ADVANTAGES OF SUN-ENGINE
- Is up to 5 times smaller in the size of the solar array verses a standard PV array
- Has 3 times more kWh output than PV operating at 6,600 hours/yr vs. 2,200 hours/yr for PV
- Generates up to 14 times more power per sq.ft. than standard PV
- Can supply hot water, refrigeration or cooling to generate added savings making one of world’s first solar trigeneration systems.
- The solar collector has possibly the highest tempereature output available for a single-axis flat plate panel.
- The DCG heat engine has highest thermal efficiency (@14%) in generating electricity from the lowest temperature source. Competing systems operate at 220oF at a 10% thermal efficiency.
- Sun-Engine has a low life-cycle cost over 20-years at less than $0.06/kWh, making it competitive with electricity from the power grid burning coal or natural gas as fuel.
Algae Production Technology
Ecoponex has uses leading-edge Photo-Bio-Reactor (PBR) technology from the Netherlands to cultivate and harvest selected micro-algae species and refine them into high value nutraceutical products and animal feeds. Our technology is utilized to grow specific species in a continuous batch production using an advanced LED lighting technology that has been optimized for energy efficiency and fine-tuned to achieve maximum growth rates and lipid production from the algae.
Certain algae species are selected for their natural ability to produce high levels of lipids between 40% and 60% of their body weight. The lipids are extracted from the algae and recovered on-site using a proprietary separation process. The raw oil is then shipped and sold to targeted manufacturing companies in the US and Europe where it refined and purified nutraceutical products for human nutrition. These products include: Omega-3 Oils (EPA, DHA) and astaxanthin. The remaining algae paste after oil extraction is then dried for use as a highly nutrition high protein fish and livestock feed.
Aquaculture System for Fish Production
In our REEF facilities we farm raise a variety of high value fish specifies by employing the best-available in recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology. Utilizing controlled environment RAS system design we can grow a variety of cold or warm blooded fish species in either fresh, brackish or salt water. Species can include Coho salmon, barramundi, black cod, tuna, shrimp and other shell fish, depending on which product or products have the highest value in the local/regional market place.
- 95% use of recycled water
- Organic wastes and nutrients recovered and recycled
- Wastewater is cleaned through use of bio-filters and aquaponic cultivation of plants which biologically remove nutrients
- Solid wastes (fish manure) are captured and sent to the anaerobic digester to make biogas
- Offers high yields of fish biomass (.5 lb/gal water) with bio-intensive production techniques using circular tanks
In our REEF™ facilities, we use the very latest in Controlled Environment Greenhouse design to achieve high yields of crops that are 20 to 30 greater than conventional soil-based field crops.
- Takes wastewater from the fish RAS system to be used as the growth media for the plants
- Utilizes CO2 captured from energy production to enhance growth
- Purifies the water for recirculation back to the fish in the RAS system
- Uses natural pest management technology with no insecticides, herbicides or other chemicals to grow crops
- Our greenhouses can grow up to 40 varieties of crops selected for local market preferences and conditions
- Our greenhouses also ensures production levels and quality of crops with any effects from climate or availability of water or fertilizer
Technology for Fresh Animal Feed
In the Company’s REEF™ facility designed for dairy farms, a controlled environment greenhouse is used to cultivate small grain silages (e.g. wheat, barley and corn silage) having high crude protein and total digestible nutrients (TDN). This provides for year round 24/7 production of high nutrition “green” fresh cattle feeds. The freshly harvested forage crops are combined with dewatered algae paste after lipids extraction to increase protein levels to make a super feed. Organic nutrients to grow crops come from anaerobic digester and CO2 is captured from biogas cogeneration system to enhance crop yields
- Feed diet creates super healthy high value Omega3 milk and cheese as new marketing angle
- 95% water savings with no evaporation transpiration losses
- Reduces fertilizer requirements and costs
- Lowers potential pollution of ground water
- No to minimal transportation costs or related energy use and air pollution
- Reduces land area used for feed storage