Another Reason to Root for Louisiana

A cleantech grant could advance algae oil extraction
| June 17, 2011

The Louisiana Board of Regents believes in algae. The board has given a research clean technology grant to Louisiana State University’s Agricultural Center and Aquatic Energy, a Louisiana-based algae developer, based on its plans “to address one of the biggest bottlenecks in microalgae biofuels,” says Chandra Theegala, an associate professor at LSU’s AgCenter. The bottleneck she refers to is created by effective cell harvesting.

While the news is great for the AgCenter and Aquatic Energy, the grant highlights the popularity and belief in algae development. This is because the winning proposals chosen by the Board of Regents went through a multistep process that included expert analysis from in- and out-of-state participants. Algae didn’t win in this case because of a good feeling or a subjective thought; algae won because it matched the specifications for the winners well. Those specifications include scientific and technical merit, potential contribution to the state’s economic development, evidence of private sector involvement, and more.

The main goal of the work will be to utilize Aquatic Energy’s R&D facility and further advance its dewatering and extraction techniques, all in the hope (at least for the Board of Regents) that the work will have a positive economic impact on the state.  —Luke Geiver