New research launch, algae biofuel for renewable energy

[USA] A new $6 million project that aims to produce a renewable energy focuses on algae biofuel are now being launch. In collaboration with Algae DISCOVR Project, the team aimed to find four algae biofuels out of 30 algae species in three years.

According to Pacific Norhwest National Laboratory, lead author of the study Michael Huesemann of the Department of Energy said on a press release, “Algae biofuel is a promising clean energy technology, but the current production methods are costly and limit its use. The price of biofuel is largely tied to growth rates. Our method could help developers find the most productive algae strains more quickly and efficiently.”

Likewise, through the Algae DISCOVR Project or Development of Integrated Screening, Cultivar Optimization and Validation Research, the research can reduce the cost and the time needed to move into the laboratory and into the production of biofuel. Led by PNNL, the project will start this fall in the Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, Washington.

In the article posted by Science Daily, the work research will rely on the PNNL’s Laboratory Environmental Algae Pond Simulator mini-photobioreactors or LEAPS. This will mimic the water temperature and lightning conditions in outdoor ponds to achieve the best conditions for the algae.

The first phase of the multistep-screening process uses PNNL’s photobioreactors to cultivate the 30 strains under consideration and evaluate their growth rates. The algae will be tested and evaluated on how resist harmful bacteria and predators.

Next is where the team will observe and look for the strains that produce 20 percent more biomass to be used in biofuel. Best strains will be sorted to find individual cells best suited to make biofuel production and contains more oil. Some of the selected algae will be transferred to the outdoor ponds for further future studies.

Finally, the team will make further studies with the final algae strains to understand how fast they grow in different lighting conditions. The data from the results of the study will be made public in the hopes that algae companies and other researchers will consider growing most productive strains identified by the project.

Potential outcomes not included in the current project are converting harvested algae in biofuels, examining operational changes through crop rotation to increase the growth of the algae and assessing technical feasibility and economic costs in making biofuel.


Photo: Awful smelling algae is seen along the St. Lucie River on July 11, 2016 in Stuart, Florida. The algae which is thought to be coming from from Lake Okeechobee as water is released has fouled coastal waterways, created angry communities, closed beaches and has had an economic impact as tourists and others are driven away by the smell and inability to enjoy some of the waterways. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (Photo : Joe Raedle / Staff)

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