Algae-based technology receives $3 million

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Sept. 5, 2008 at 11:12 a.m. CST

Heliae Development LLC is investing $1.5 million in an Arizona State University research program to develop strains of algae that can be used to produce kerosene-based aviation fuel. Arizona Technology Enterprises, the technology venturing arm of Arizona State University, will receive an equity stake in Heliae Development and receive licensing fees and a share of any income derived from the commercialization of the algae-derived fuel. Heliae Development's funding is being matched with a $1.5 million award from Science Foundation Arizona. Heliae Development will lease space at SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center.

Heliae Development's investment will continue research that focuses on the commercial production of kerosene from algae using patented technologies developed by professors Qiang Hu and Milton Sommerfeld at Arizona State University's Laboratory for Algae Research & Biotechnology. The researchers identified strains of algae that can convert a significant portion of their cellular mass into medium-chain fatty acid oil which, after deoxygentation, is similar to kerosene. Kerosene can be mixed with fuel additives to produce the jet fuel known as JP8 or Jet A.

The technology is currently being used in a pilot-scale demonstration plant.