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Biofuels algae5

Published on January 17th, 2013 | by Andrew

9

$10MM EERE Funding Opportunity for Algae Biofuel Advancements

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January 17th, 2013 by  

The Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office announced January 17 up to $10 million in funding to foster advances in biofuels derived from algae.

According to EERE, “the funding will support research projects aimed at boosting the productivity of algae cultivation systems and developing and demonstrating effective, energy-efficient, and low-cost algae harvest and processing technologies, such as centrifugation and extraction.”

EERE funds will be awarded to applicants whose projects aim to maximize the amount of oil produced from algae cultivation and processing and improve production of biofuel intermediaries. Finding ways of realizing these goals will “help lower the cost of biofuels by decreasing capital and operating costs, while enhancing the sustainability of algal biofuels by capturing energy from every available part of the feedstock and reducing water resource requirements,” EERE explains in a press release.

Realizing the Promise of Algae for Biofuel Production

The focus of EERE’s Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is on longer-term research projects with a duration of up to five years that “integrate research and development on comprehensive mid-scale processes from strain development to production of biofuel intermediaries.”

Aiming to build on the current body of knowledge, EERE identified three priority areas of integrated research:

  • Improvements in Algal Biomass Productivity;
  • Improvements in Preprocessing Technologies; and
  • Technical Advances that Enable Integration of Algal Biomass Unit Operations.

Elaborating further, the main objective of the Advancements in Algal Biomass Yield (ABY) funding opportunity “is to demonstrate, at a process development unit scale of one (1) acre cultivation equivalent, algal biofuel intermediate yield of 2,500 gallons of biofuel feedstock (or equivalent dry weight basis) per acre per year by 2018.”

Achieving commercial-scale viability of algae biofuel production would be a tremendous breakthrough in terms of producing clean, renewable fuels for transport and shifting away from heavily subsidized and controversial production of biofuels from corn and other food crops.

EERE’s Biomass Technologies Office considers this an “important milestone in reducing the cost of algal biofuels to cost-competitive levels on the way to achieving 5,000 gallons per acre by 2022.

With support from the Australian government, Aurora Algae is looking to commercialize algae biomass R&D undertaken at the University of California, Berkeley to produce biofuels, nutritional, and pharmaceutical products at a site in Western Australia.

Cultivating a genetically-enhanced strain of common algae in six 1-acre (4,000-square meter) saltwater ponds, Clean Technica’s last report has Aurora consistently producing between 12-15 metric tons of algal biomass per month.

Back in the US, a blend of biodiesel containing a 20% mix from algal sources went on sale at gas stations in San Francisco this past November, according to a report from IM sister site Gas2Go.

The algae used to produce the B20 biodiesel soaks up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce the fuel. Combustion in diesel engines results in 30% less particulates, 20% less carbon monoxide, and 10% less hydrocarbons, and at $4.25/gallon the algae biodiesel “is on par with regular diesel levels, and will soon go on sale at four gas stations around the Bay area,” Gas2Go reported.

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



  • fatalgae

    DOE BIOMASS PROGRAM AND ALGAE RESEARCHERS ARE BEING INVESTIGATED BY IG’s DEPT.

    Solydra story is opening a huge can of worms at the DOE GRANT AND LOAN GURANTEE LOAN PROGRAM. Its not just about the Solar loan guarantee program. Look at all the millions in fees collected by the DOE GRANT AND LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM with algae projects less than 20% completed. Investigations are going on all DOE Biomass Program Grants to algae researchers.Solydra story is opening a huge can of worms at the DOE GRANT AND LOAN GURANTEE LOAN PROGRAM. Its not just about the Solar loan guarantee program. Look at all the millions in fees collected by the DOE GRANT AND LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM with algae projects less than 20% completed. Investigations are going on all DOE Biomass Program Grants to algae researchers.

    The US taxpayer has spent over $2.5 billion dollars over the last 50 years on algae research. To date, nothing has been commercialized by any algae researcher.

    The REAL question is: Does the DOE BIOMASS PROGRAM really want the US off of foreign oil or do they want to continue funding more grants for algae research to keep algae researchers employed at universities for another 50 years?

    In business, you are not given 50 years to research anything. The problem is in the Congressional Mandate that says the DOE can only use taxpayer monies on algae research, NOT algae production in the US. So far, algae research has not got the US off of foreign oil for the last 50 years!

    A Concerned Taxpayer

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, the real question is whether you’ll quit overusing your cap locks key.
      “In business, you are not given 50 years to research anything.”

      Correct. And that’s why we use public funds to do long term research. Business looks for quick profits, business would have never funded the space program or much of our medical research.

      If we left it up to business we’d still be getting around in coal powered trains.

      • fatalgae

        Are you one of the algae researcher that took grant money and set up your wife in business? According to the DOE less than 20% of all algae research projects ever get completed.
        “The REAL question is: Does the DOE BIOMASS PROGRAM really want the US off of foreign oil or do they want to continue funding more grants for algae research to keep algae researchers employed at universities for another 50 years?”

        A major US university grant reipient pubilicly claimed a few years ago that “all algae technology hurdles have been met. It’s all engineering and scale-up gong forward”.
        Please explain why you think you need more grant funding for algae research?

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Ha, the first question is absurd, as you’d know if you were a regular CleanTechnica reader.

          Regarding your claim at the bottom, also absurd. I just interviewed the director of NREL about algae biofuels — i can assure you, that quote is WAY off base.

          • fatalgae

            NREL reports all algae research projects to the DOE Biomass Program in Washington, DC. According to the IG’s office they have asked legitimate questions of the DOE Biomass Program and have gotten stonewalled every time the last few years.
            Again, the DOE Biomass Program has stated that ” Less than 20% of all algae grant projects get completed and that algae researchers are being investigated for misuse of grant funds (i.e. setting up wives in business). Congressmen have asked for results for years and were told there are no results. People who tried to change the DOE Biomass Program gave up and quit. Univesity grant recipients have stated publicly a few years ago “All algae technology hurdles have been met. All that is needed is engineering and scale-up going forward. Not more algae research.
            Some of the same Phd’s at the DOE Biomass Program claim they have rooms of algae technologies sitting on shelves they admit they don’t understand.
            Buffoonery at its finest at the DOE Biomass Program.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Sorry, but a bunch of baseless claims are going to get marked as trolling. Offer some evidence to your claims or move on. Conspiracy theory rumors don’t cut it here. :D

          • fatalgae

            Sorry. No baseless claims, No conspiracy. Be more than happy to provide you facts and names of investigators at the IG’s department offline if you would like.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Why offline? And is there nothing online you can share about any of this? You mentioned statements by researchers and money going to other purposes — this is all just something you heard from someone? None of it is available online somewhere?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mac.mcdougal.5 Mac McDougal

    Nice article, many thx! But please: do not use different units to measure success in different arenas. If the BTO’s office considers “5,000 gal/acre” an “important milestone,” then how is the reader to compare that to Aurora’s performance of “12 to 15 metric tons” per acre of saltwater pool per month? This leaves to the side the other issue: time. Is it 5k gal/acre/year? Month? Day? Same with Aurora: metric tons/acre/year? Etc. In short, these numbers are very difficult to interpret.

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