Environmental Protection

Algae Aqua-Culture Technology to Use Stimulus for Biodigester Plant

Algae Aqua-Culture Technology (AACT), a Whitefish, Mont., company, has received $350,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to stimulate the development of Montana’s algae-to-fertilizer industry. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) granted the award.

The company will immediately begin building a wood chip-to-energy and fertilizer processing plant in Columbia Falls that will initially employ about nine people. The proprietary process uses a greenhouse-based algae growth system and an anaerobic biodigester to transform a blend of the wood waste and algae into high-value methane for power generation, as well as into significant amounts of highly valuable organic fertilizer, according to Kathi Montgomery, Montana DEQ public education specialist.

“Algae’s amazing productivity offers the ultimate path to a green economy,” said Michael Smith, chief executive officer and grant project manager of Algae Aqua-Culture Technology. “This award not only gives AACT the initial funding it needs to move into full production, it also gives the timber industry a new way to capitalize on the bounty of Montana’s forests while also reducing Montana’s carbon footprint.”

DEQ awarded the grant based on the determination that AACT would be able to adapt its computerized biomass processing technology to the existing mill operation and forest products found at Stoltze Lumber Company mill in Columbia Falls.

Stoltze is a long-time, family-owned wood products company, which, like so many other Montana timber companies, has been searching for innovative technologies that will allow it to convert its wood resources into new product lines that are less affected by the boom-and-bust cycles of the American home building business.

AACT operates a demonstration site at the Stoltze Mill site just outside Columbia Falls, and the grant will allow it to begin building a full-scale, 5,550 square-foot Green Power House and to begin gearing up to meet an accumulating demand for both its organic fertilizer and for its Green Power Houses.

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