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Home » Algae/Other Aquatic Organisms/Seaweed, Australia, Business News/Analysis, China, European Union (EU), Feedstock, Funding/Financing/Investing, India, International, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Mexico, Process, R & D Focus, Spain, Taiwan

Who’s in the Lead? Algae around the World

Submitted by on January 12, 2012 – 1:10 pmNo Comment

by Jonathan Williams (Biofuels Digest)  Who’s in front in the development of algal-based fuels and biomaterials? India, China, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Israel, the EU, or the US. The NAABB’s globe-trotting chief parses it out.

In New Mexico, Dr. Jose Olivares is head of the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB), a consortium funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop innovative technologies that will help bring algal biofuels to a commercial reality. Jonathan Williams sat down recently with Dr. Olivares after he had completed a wide-ranging tour of some of the algal hot spots around the globe.


India has a long history of working with algae, but mostly as a nutritional source or for wastewater treatment. They are trying to develop those areas into a biofuels industry to some extent.

…Reliance Industries Limited, which is one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world and is located in India. They have two of the world’s largest refineries and they are in the top 20 petrochemical producers in the world.  Reliance Industries is in the process of developing a strategy for biofuels and algae biofuels in particular.


Japan has had an even longer history than most countries in developing algae for commercial purposes, mostly macroalgae, for nutritional sources and food sources.

…Much of this research is concentrated at the University of Tsukuba. There, they have actually identified a new species of algae that grows very, very fast and has fairly good oil productivity. It’s very consistent and very fast growing in large numbers, so its overall productivity looks promising for the biofuels industry.


…We are collaborating with Dr. Jian Xu in the sequencing and the annotation and analysis of Nannochloropsis salina  strain 1776 which we are also sequencing here at Los Alamos. This collaboration also involves NMSU and Solix Biosystems which played a key role in developing our collaboration.

Another entity in China working in the algae industry is ENN, they have been developing some interests in photobioreactor-based systems for carbon sequestration and the development of algae for biofuels and bioproducts.


…The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) itself is actually working very closely with Taiwanese universities in transformation of algae, photobioreactor systems, belt screen based harvesting technologies and supercritical extraction systems.


Australia has been in the news for quite some time and has been developing quite an industrial interest in algae. Muradel, a small company forming in Adelaide and in Karratha (from a joint venture between Murdoch U., Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd and SQC Pty Ltd) is developing a small 10 acre facility and currently has about two acres under development. Additionally, Aurora Algae has started developing some facilities in Karratha, and MBD Energy is active in Queensland.


There are four new algae projects being funded by the European Union. Three of them are located in Spain.

…Repsol has a number of algae projects developing around Spain, including at the Univeristy of Alicante. Their research is looking at plastics for photobioreactors, greenhouse containment systems, strain selection, photobioreactor design, and fuel conversion.

…Of course, there has also been great work by Rene Wijffels at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, in understanding different types of photobiorector systems and cultivation systems for the European-type environment.

…A nice, new technology just emerged out of a company called Evodos looking at a new centrifugal technology that is very low energy and fairly well developed.

Israel and Korea

We’ve heard quite a bit from Israel who has had a long history in developing nutraceuticals and now are using their photobioreactor systems mostly for biofuels.

(T)he U.S. is probably still the largest funding source for algal development from a public standpoint. Even from a private standpoint there are many more industrial and commercial efforts developing in the U.S. as compared to the rest of the world.  READ MORE and MORE (Biofuels Digest update Israel comments) and MORE (GIAVAP) and MORE (Algae Industry Magazine)

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