Groundbreaking Algae Research Continues at Pecos: AgriLife Research Shares $8 Million Grant
by Steve Byrns (AgriLife Today) Pecos is usually egg-frying hot, bone dry and much of the groundwater is brackish, but Texas A&M AgriLife Research personnel know the area is prime real estate for conducting algae research, something they’ve been doing successfully since 2007.
They’re good at it too, so good that they’ve recently been asked to share an $8 million Department of Energy grant with three other research institutions, officials said.
Shay Simpson, the associate program director of corporate relations for AgriLife Research at College Station who helped orchestrate the Texas grant portion, said the agency’s algae program at the Pecos Station has grown from its start when drop-in fuels–those that are interchangeable with conventional fuels–were the focus to 2009. After that, animal feeds took center stage and today, biomass production, along with chemical and nutraceutical or health-related products, are the prime interests.
The University of Arizona leads the partnership funded by the grant called the Regional Algal Feedstock Testbed or RAFT. The other partners are the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Department of Energy research facility at Richland, Wash., and New Mexico State University at Las Cruces. These research partners are tasked with finding better ways to turn algae into biofuels, bioproducts and feed by optimizing growth systems to produce more biomass and lipids from the algae. They also are developing water recycling systems and testing new, more efficient species of algae. READ MORE