Baseload, Bioenergy

US Department of Energy Invests $22 Million in Algae Biofuels

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, speaking at the DOE Biomass conference, announced $16.5 million in grants to four projects in California, Hawaii and New Mexico aimed at breaking down technical barriers and accelerating the development of sustainable, affordable algae biofuels.

In addition, the Secretary announced $6 million in DOE support for a project aimed at reducing harvesting, handling and preprocessing costs across the entire biomass feedstock supply chain.

Algae Biofuels

The projects will help boost the productivity of sustainable algae, while cutting capital and operating costs of commercial-scale production. The projects include:

Hawaii Bioenergy – Lihue, HI – $5 million

Based in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii Bioenergy will develop a cost-effective photosynthetic open pond system to produce algal oil. The project will also demonstrate preprocessing technologies that reduce energy use and the overall cost of extracting lipids and producing fuel intermediates.

Sapphire Energy – San Diego, Calif. – $5 million

Headquartered in San Diego, California, Sapphire Energy will develop a new process to produce algae-based fuel that is compatible with existing refineries. The project will also work on improving algae strains and increasing yield through cultivation improvements.

New Mexico State University – Las Cruces, NM – $5 million

For its project, New Mexico State University will increase the yield of microalgae, while developing harvesting and cultivation processes that lower costs and support year-round production.

California Polytechnic State University – Delhi, Calif. – $1.5 million

California Polytechnic State University will conduct research and development work to increase the productivity of algae strains and compare two separate processing technologies. The project will be based at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Delhi, California that has six acres of algae ponds.

Streamlining the Feedstock Supply Chain

Secretary Moniz also announced a new project led by Columbus, Ohio-based FDC Enterprises to reduce harvesting, handling and preprocessing costs across the entire biomass feedstock supply chain. The project will receive a nearly $6 million Energy Department investment.

The FDC Enterprises project will work with independent growers and biofuels companies in Iowa, Kansas, Virginia and Tennessee — including POET, ADM, Clariant International and Pellet Technology USA — to develop new field equipment, biorefinery conveyor designs and improved preprocessing technologies. The project will also develop and deploy feedstock quality-monitoring tools to reduce sampling and analysis costs, and conduct real-time analysis of feedstock characteristics such as moisture content and particle size.

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This article was originally published on Biofuels Digest and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Algae via Shutterstock