ConocoPhillips signs algae research agreement

By Erin Voegele
ConocoPhillips announced July 1 that the company had signed a $5 million, multi-year research agreement with the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (C2B2), a Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory research center. C2B2 is a joint venture of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The research is scheduled to run two to three years, and will build on a variety of active research projects being conducted by Colorado scientists and students to find new ways of converting biomass into low-carbon transportation fuels. The first part of the project will center on creating renewable fuel from algae.

According to Lou Burke, ConocoPhillips' manager of biofuels, the research will focus on making triglycerides from algae, which can then be used to make renewable diesel, renewable jet fuel, biodiesel and renewable gasoline. "Most of this work is going to be on strain selection, cultivation and extraction technologies," Burke said. He explained that ConocoPhillips currently has technologies that convert the triglycerides into fuels. The focus of this research is to find ways of making the process sustainable while reducing carbon dioxide emissions and using a cost-effective feedstock. ConocoPhillips currently uses its conversion technology to make renewable diesel commercially from soybean oil and animal tallow.

David Hiller, executive director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, said his organization is excited that ConocoPhillips has entered into this sponsored research agreement. "We are looking forward to expanding the scope and duration of this research with ConocoPhillips," he said.