Six projects will receive up to $18 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce the modeled price of algae-based biofuels to less than $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019.
Algal biomass can be converted to advanced biofuels that offer promising alternatives to petroleum-based diesel and jet fuels, according to DOE. Additionally, algae can be used to make other bioproducts such as industrial chemicals, bio-based polymers and proteins. Barriers related to algae cultivation, harvesting and conversion to fuels and products need to be overcome to achieve the Department’s target of $3 per gge for advanced algal biofuels by 2030.
To accomplish this goal, the DOEis investing in applied research and development technologies that can achieve higher yields of targeted bioproducts and biofuels from algae, increasing the overall value for algae biomass.
The projects selected include:
- Improve Algal Biofuel Sustainability. Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo., will receive up to $9 million to enhance overall algal biofuels sustainability by maximizing carbon dioxide, nutrient and water recovery and recycling as well as bio-power co-generation. Producing Algae and Co-Products for Energy (PACE) at the Colorado School of Mines will oversee the project in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Reliance Industries Ltd. and others.
- Produce Nutritional Products. Duke University, Durham, N.C., will receive up to $5.2 million to produce protein-based human and poultry nutritional products along with hydrotreated algal oil extract. The Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC) at Duke University will oversee the project in collaboration with the University of Hawaii, Cornell University, Cellana and others.
- Use Algae to Absorb CO2. Global Algae Innovations, El Cajon, Calif., will receive up to $1 million to increase algal biomass yield by deploying an system to absorb carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a nearby power plant.
- Carbon Dioxide Capture to Increase Biomass Productivity. Arizona State University, Mesa, Ariz., will receive up to $1 million for atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, enrichment, and delivery to increase biomass productivity.
- Identify Algal Infestations and Infections. University of California, San Diego, will receive up to $760,000 to develop an automated early-detection system that can identify and characterize infestation or infection of an algae production pond in order to ensure crop health.
- Protect Algal Crops. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif., will receive up to $1 million to protect algal crops by developing “probiotic” bacteria to combat pond infestation and increase ecosystem functioning and resilience.
Learn more about EERE's work with industry, academia and national laboratory partners research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies here.