ASU, CSU, NREL Share in $3.5 Million Algae Project
(Algae Industry Magazine) Colorado State University scientists and Arizona State University’s Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation are partners in a three-year grant of up to $3.5 million from the Department of Energy, aimed at improving how algae-based biofuels and bioproducts are made.
The Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office has announced its support for the project, titled “Rewiring Algal Carbon Energetics for Renewables,” led by scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. The funding is part of the federal bioenergy office’s Advanced Algal Systems Program, which had previously awarded $15 million in grants to three other projects.
The multidisciplinary team includes CSU’s Ken Reardon, professor of chemical and biological engineering; Graham Peers, associate professor of biology; and Jason Quinn, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; along with partners at National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado School of Mines, Arizona State University, Utah State University, and representatives from industry.
The overall project goal set by the Department of Energy is to double the yield of biofuel precursors from algae to about 3,700 gallons per acre per year.
Strategies to be used by the team to meet this goal include increasing algal cultivation productivity, optimizing biomass composition, and extracting and separating different types of algal lipids to reduce the cost of upgrading them to renewable diesel.
The researchers will use the algae species Desmodesmus armatus, and will focus on fundamental processes of efficiently channeling carbon dioxide into useful fuel intermediates. A San Diego-based company, Sapphire Energy, is a project partner and has pioneered the use of D. armatus for biofuels.
Dr. Reardon has previously worked on several research projects related to converting biomass into a variety of useful products, including fuels. For this project, his team will work to ferment carbohydrates in the algal cells into chemicals of interest, including ethanol, as well as a fuel precursor called 2,3 butanediol. READ MORE