DOE Awards $24 Million for Algal Biofuels Research

June 30, 2010

DOE announced on June 28 its selection of three research consortiums to receive up to $24 million to tackle commercialization of algae-based biofuels. The selections will support the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector and creation of jobs in the domestic bio-industry while helping cut greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. The three consortia include partners from academia, national laboratories, and private industries located across the country. Projects are expected to continue for three years.

The three consortia selected will take differing approaches. The Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium, led by Arizona State University, will focus on testing the acceptability of algal biofuels as replacements for petroleum-based fuels. DOE funding of up to $6 million will be dedicated to investigating biochemical conversion of algae to fuels and products as well as to analyzing physical chemistry properties of algal fuels and fuel intermediates. Also, the Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization, led by the University of California, San Diego, will concentrate on developing algae as a robust biofuels feedstock. Up to $9 million in DOE funding will aid the search for new approaches to algal crop protection, algal nutrient utilization, and genetic tools. And the Cellana, LLC Consortium, led by Cellana, LLC, of Hawaii, will examine large-scale production of fuels and feed from microalgae grown in seawater. DOE will invest up to $9 million in tasks integrating new algal harvesting technologies with pilot-scale cultivation test beds, and in developing marine microalgae as animal feed for the aquaculture industry.

As these allied groups tackle hurdles to algal biofuels use, they will follow the path outlined by the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap which DOE released on June 28. This document synthesizes public comments on a draft version published in June 2009. That preliminary report summarized the work of more than 200 experts and stakeholders who took part in DOE's National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop. The final National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap is intended to guide future work and investments in algal biofuels. See the DOE press release, the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap (PDF 7.5 MB), and DOE's Biomass Program Web site. Download Adobe Reader.