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DOE invests in algae, biomass supply chain

By Staff | August 20, 2013

The U.S. DOE has announced more than $22 million in new investments to help develop cost-competitive algae fuels and to streamline the biomass feedstock supply chain for advanced biofuels. Of the investment, nearly $16.5 million will be split between four algae projects; two located in California, one in Hawaii and another in New Mexico. The goal is to boost the productivity of sustainable algae while reducing capital and operating costs.


Hawaii Bioenergy was awarded a $5 million investment to develop a photosynthetic open pond system to produce algae oil. The project will also demonstrate reprocessing technologies that reduce energy use and the overall cost of extracting lipids and producing fuel intermediates.


Sapphire Energy was also awarded $5 million. The funding will support the development of a new process to produce algae-based fuel that is compatible with existing refineries. The project will also work on improving algae strains and increasing yield through cultivation improvements.


An additional $5 million will go to New Mexico State University, where the investment will support research to increase the yield of microalgae. The project will also develop harvesting and cultivation processes that lower costs while supporting year-round production.


Finally, California Polytechnic State University is receiving $1.5 million to increase the productivity of algae strains and compare two processing technologies. The project, based at a wastewater treatment plant in Delhi, Calif., includes 6 acres of algae ponds.


The remaining $6 million will support a project led by RDC Enterprises to reduce the harvesting, handling and preprocessing costs of the biomass feedstock supply chain.