Obama Touts Algal Biofuels; $14M in New R&D Funding; $2.28 per Gallon Algal Biofuels in Sight?
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) …In Washington, the Obama Administration outlined a new $14 million round of R&D grants for algal biofuels, as the US President highlighted algal biofuels in a speech at the University of Miami which focused on energy policy.
In Miami, the President said: “We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae. You’ve got a bunch of algae out here, right? If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we’ll be doing all right. Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in the United States. And that means greater energy security. That means lower costs. It means more jobs. It means a stronger economy.”
…Through ARPA-E, the Energy Department will make $14 million available to support research and development into biofuels from algae … The Department is currently supporting more than 30 algae-based biofuels projects, representing $85 million in total investments.
…Specifically, the new projects will establish and operate research “test beds” for algal biofuels that can facilitate development, test new approaches to algae production, and discover innovative ways to minimize the water and nutrients needed to mass produce algae for commercial biofuels. … A copy of the full funding announcement can be downloaded here.
…A friend of the Digest writes: One topic worth discussion as the USDA’s BioPreferred [and other programs] are rolled out is the use of fossil carbon. For example, the use of waste CO2. What if the CO2 comes from a coal burning power plant? This is a great use of the CO2, perhaps better than sequestering it underground, but would the resulting succinate be biopreferred? What if a company like Proterro makes sugar from coal plant CO2? Can that sugar be used for biobased materials? My concern is that the program may hinder the types of novel innovation we need to creatively and effectively deal with waste CO2 and to have options other that sequestration.”