Eat It, Drink It, Put it in your Car!

Oil Fox

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

Overview

Oil Fox is an Argentina-based biodiesel producer. In addition to producing biodiesel from standard vegetable and other natural oils, they also have developed technology to create fuel from algae.

The byproducts of their process include drinkable water and edible supplemental protein (spirulina).

Author

Maria Belen Rebottaro

Maria Belen Rebottaro

School

Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina

Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina

Professor

Aleandra Scafati

Aleandra Scafati

Innovation

Oil Fox has created a low- to no-impact supply chain that produces biodiesel, water, and edible proteins. There are several innovations: first, the company has developed the technology to extract oil from algae to produce biodiesel. Second, they have developed zero-impact greenhouses to produce large quantities of production-grade algae. These green houses are innovative in two ways: first they are powered by methane which is derived from animal waste from farms (a low-cost and sustainable source of power); and second, the greenhouses grow algae in wastewater that becomes drinkable as the algae consume the nutrients and minerals.

Eat It, Drink It, Put it in your Car!

Inspiration

Oil Fox was born thinking about the environment. It was the main partners’ objective because a healthy environment is better for employees, their families, society, etc. With that in mind, the founders decided to establish new parameters for the production:

  1. To develop technology to help the environment, protect biodiversity, create sustainable development without wasting natural resources, and use renewable energy.
  2. Families working here and their communities will receive special attention. In particular, we will aim to support native populations living in the country since environmental impacts hit them hardest
  3. Oil Fox has a long history of experimenting with non-edible oil seeds (as an alternative to soybean) for the production of biodiesel
  4. Oil Fox has created a farm school and a foundation for children around the country who are interested in learning about farming.

Overall impact

It’s a given that extracting and using fossil fuels is unsustainable and creates unhealthy air and water conditions. The downstream effects of fossil fuels are well known – from the environmental impact of burning it to the waste created from machines that use it. According to Trading Economics, 89.67% of Argentina’s energy is generated from fossil fuels, and the country is the 11th highest producer of CO2 emissions in the world (producing 172.47 mil tonnes in 2009.)

In terms of automotive fuel alone, the country uses 95,280 barrels per day (or 4,001,760 gallons of gas per day) for approximately 13.1 million cars.

Business benefit

Oil Fox is developing a profitable business by using algae as a raw material in the production of biodiesel.

As regards business value, 10 greenhouses is equivalent to an investment of $2 million dollars. Each greenhouse reaches economic break-even in sixth months (180 days). The annual internal rate of return is 222.46%.

Social and environmental benefit

Using algae instead of soybeans to produce the oil from which biodiesel is made reduces the impact on the land. One hectare of soybeans produces 400 liters of oil once per year. Whereas one hectare of cyanobacteria produces up to 450,000 liters of oil.

Further, the greenhouses contain 500,000 liters of wastewater which is purified and potable after the algae consumes the nutrients.

After the oil is extracted from the algae for biodiesel production, the remaining spirulina is an edible source of protein.

Biodiesel is also a cleaner-burning fuel that reduces toxic emissions.

Interview

Jorge Kaloustian, Not available

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Oil Fox

Oil Fox

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