US DOE to Award Up To $24 Million to Three Consortia for Algal Biofuels Research, Releases National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $24 million to three research consortia to tackle key hurdles in the achieving the commercial scale production of algae-based biofuels. DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi made the announcement while speaking in a plenary keynote session at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 2010 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Washington, DC.

Additionally, Zoi announced the release of the final National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop—the first major publication from the DOE on algal fuels since 1996, Zoi said. The roadmap incorporates the results from the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop as well as comments received following the publication of a draft report in June 2009. (Earlier post.)

The consortia receiving the new awards comprise partners from academia, national laboratories, and private industries that are based across the country, broadening the geographic range and technical expertise of DOE partners in the area of algal biofuels.

Projects are expected to continue for a period of three years. Together, they represent a diversified portfolio that will help accelerate algal biofuels development with the objective of significantly increasing production of affordable, high-quality algal biofuels that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

The three consortia selected for funding are:

  • Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium (Mesa, Arizona): Led by Arizona State University, this consortium will focus on testing the acceptability of algal biofuels as replacements for petroleum-based fuels. Tasks include investigating biochemical conversion of algae to fuels and products, and analyzing physical chemistry properties of algal fuels and fuel intermediates. (DOE share: up to $6 million)

  • Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization (San Diego, California): Led by the University of California, San Diego, this consortium will concentrate on developing algae as a robust biofuels feedstock. Tasks include investigating new approaches for algal crop protection, algal nutrient utilization and recycling, and developing genetic tools. (DOE funding: up to $9 million)

  • Cellana, LLC Consortium (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii): Led by Cellana, LLC, this consortium will examine large-scale production of fuels and feed from microalgae grown in seawater. Tasks include integrating new algal harvesting technologies with pilot-scale cultivation test beds, and developing marine microalgae as animal feed for the aquaculture industry. (DOE funding: up to $9 million)

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