HR passes algae biofuel tax bill October 2010

A bill meant to give tax breaks to companies working on algae feedstocks-generated biofuel has been approved by the US House of Representatives. The Algae-based Renewable Fuel Promotion Act (HR 4168) was sponsored by New Mexico Congressman Harry Teague and has a corresponding bill in the Senate that was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D, Florida) which is awaiting action after being referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Teague’s HR 4168 modifies the Internal Revenue Coded such that algae-based fuels can qualify for benefits now going to cellulosic biofuel makers. The bill includes a USD 1.01 per gal production tax credit and 50 per cent bonus depreciation for property employed to produce algae-based biofuel.

The bill defines "algae-based biofuel" as “any liquid fuel which is produced from the biomass of an algal organism (in essence, an organism that is primarily aquatic and classified as a non-vascular plant),” according to the Congressional Research Service, Feedstuffs reports.

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By: N. Real (FIS)
Algae biofuels July 2010

Meeting the world’s growing energy demands will require a multitude of sources. Biofuel from algae could be a meaningful part of the solution in the future because of its potential as an economically viable, low emissions transportation fuel.  

Together ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) announced in July 2010 the opening of a new greenhouse facility to enable the next level of research and testing in our algae biofuels program. This greenhouse, located in La Jolla, California, is part of our ongoing commitment to advance breakthrough energy technologies to help address the world’s long term energy challenges.

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By: ExxonMobile
A sea change for biofuels
: peak oil, fresh water shortages, and food challenges are driving innovations in aquatic feedstocks

 May 2010

As we enter a new decade in 2010, leagues of prescient scientists , businessmen, politicians, commodity traders, defense hawks, activists, NGOs and social entrepreneurs are taking on future challenges by invoking ancient wisdom. Necessity is the mother of invention.  A sea change is coming to the global energy, food and water industries, bringing a new wave of opportunities for feedstock development.

Energy, water and food resources are interconnected and in increasing demand world-wide.  Scientists at the University of Texas note nearly 1 billion people world-wide are near starvation, nearly 1 billion do not have adequate freshwater, and more than 2 billion people do not have proper sanitation.  

Systems models and dynamics demonstrate key interdependencies between energy, water and food.

For example, increases in wastewater and sanitation industrialization place greater demands on energy use. Similarly, increasing food production for global population growth creates greater demands for energy and freshwater – two commodities in increasing in demand and limited supply.

How can aquatic feedstock systems help to solve these interconnected energy, food, fuel challenges?  One solution is emerging from salt-tolerant feedstocks such as seaweed, sea asparagus, algae, and lemna, that can grow in brackish water,  saltwater and desert areas, saving freshwater and arable land for vital resources.

Many salt-tolerant aquatic feedstocks are also used for bioremediation to treat wastewater, yielding freshwater and sanitation benefits. Several aquatic feedstocks and varieties are now being further developed as sustainable, alternative sources for biofuels, food, feed, and fiber.

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By: W. Thurmond
Putting in a good word for algae February 2010

A European lobbying group weighed in Tuesday on a fierce debate over the environmental value of using algae to produce biofuels for vehicles.

The group, the European Algae Biomass Association, said members of its scientific committee were “confident that the commercial production of algae biofuels can be achieved with a positive carbon footprint and will represent a further important step in the direction of reducing CO2 emission in European transport, including aviation.”

The association also said a consortium called Aquafuels would deliver a report in the coming months offering a “sound scientific assessment of algae-based biofuels in terms of both their expected sustainability and increased carbon efficiency.”

The Brussels-based association said its scientific committee included experts from major universities and scientists in the field of algae biomass.

Proponents claim that algae, like some crops grown for fuel, would reduce emission because it absorbs carbon dioxide while it grows. They want algae-based fuels eventually to qualify for use toward volume-based targets for using biofuels in the European Union.

There is currently no algae-based biofuel commercially available in Europe.

Opponents say the benefits of using algae are unproved. They point to a recent study showing that the need for additives, in particular fertilizer, would give algae an unfavorable carbon footprint.

The United States government in January handed out more than $80 million in stimulus money for biofuels research, much of which will be focused on algae research.

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By: J. Kanter
OriginOil to Collaborate in Algae to Jet Fuel Project Funded by Japan Science & Technology Agency December 2009

OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL) announced that the company has agreed to partner with Research Institute of Tsukuba Bio-Tech (RITB), recently approved for funding to develop algae to jet fuel applications by Japan Science & Technology Agency (JST).

Headed by Tsukuba University professor emeritus and algae researcher Takaaki Maekawa PhD, RITB recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with OriginOil to develop and distribute systems in Japan for aircraft fuel production, algae to oil production, and other industry applications.

RITB was recently approved for funding by Japan Science & Technology Agency (JST) for two years of research and development activities based on its proposal to the agency. Professor Maekawa's presentation to JST can be found as a PDF on the RITB site.

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By: OriginOil newsletter
Could cheap algae oil power our energy future? Production on land is expensive, but costs could go down if brought to sea November 2009

Although algae is currently the most energy-dense biofuel source, the cost of producing algae oil is prohibitively expensive.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the biofuel would cost around $8 per gallon at the pump. Other experts have even projected prices of more than $50 per gallon because of inefficient production and harvesting methods.

However, a team of engineers plans to investigate whether algae commercially grown in the ocean on specialized platforms could reduce the high costs of biofuel production, potentially bringing our energy economy one step closer to shifting from fossil fuels to renewable resources.

Kansas State University engineer Wenquiao Yuan and his colleague think that growing algae on floating, acre-sized platforms in the ocean could dramatically reduce expenses associated with algae oil production by providing free sources of sunlight, nutrients, controlled temperature and water.
"I think the major reason (to grow algae in the ocean) is cost," said Yuan. "Right now, on land, in ponds or photobioreactors, algae-based biofuel is just too costly."

To start, the engineers must find an oil-rich algae strain and the right type of surface material and texture to promote maximum growth.
"Algae naturally attach to some substrates; however, for cost-effective production, that's not enough," Yuan told Discovery News.
Unless the platform can grow algae several millimeters thick, it would be too difficult to scrape off the biomass for processing into oil.
So far, the algae have responded well to dimpled stainless-steel. But the engineers still don't know why algae grow differently, depending on the type of material and surface texture.

Understanding those "mechanisms of attachment" is the goal of the first portion of the research, which is funded by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). From there, the engineers will likely test their platform system in a smaller pond environment and then take it offshore.
However, the ocean environment could present some unavoidable problems.

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By: C. Conger
The Linde Group and Algenol Biofuels agree to cooperate in CO2 and O2 management for biofuel production from algae November 2009

The technology group The Linde Group and the US company Algenol Biofuels LLC have agreed to collaborate in a joint development project in order to identify the optimum management of carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) for Algenol's unique algae and photobioreactor technology. This cooperation will see the companies join forces to develop cost-efficient technologies that capture, store, transport and supply CO2 for Algenol's proprietary process for the production of third-generation (3G) biofuels out of CO2, salt water and algae, as well as remove oxygen from the photobioreactor.

"Producing fuels or chemicals from algae is a promising way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Dr Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG. "A cost-efficient supply of CO2 is a key factor in this biofuel chain. As a pioneer and leading company in CO2 capture, transport and supply we are delighted to be a key player in major projects in the algae-to-biofuel area."

The research collaboration builds on a process developed by Algenol Biofuels and other partners. This method utilizes algae, CO2, salt water and sunlight to directly produce 3G bioethanol and other 3G biofuels or biochemicals in photobioreactors. This technology promises numerous benefits. The production facilities, for example, do not need to be built on land required for food or feed production. Furthermore, the procedure does not consume fresh water nor does it involve costly steps for processing or harvesting and storing biomass. A further key benefit is that the algae also consume CO2 from fossil fuel sources (combustion flue gases from coal-fired power plants, for example). The process is almost entirely powered by the sun.

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By: The Linde Group
Greenwash: why biofuels are just hot air October 2009

Aviation is the favourite whipping boy of environmental activists, who demand that we take caravan holidays in Cornwall rather than jetting off to places where there is guaranteed sunshine.

More worryingly for airlines, Britain and other countries are increasingly using the environmental impact of flying as an excuse to extract higher taxes from passengers. Airlines are uniquely exposed in the debate over how to mitigate climate change because they have no alternative but to continue burning energy-dense hydrocarbons in their engines.

The car industry can promise to switch to electricity and the power industry can pledge to build more nuclear plants and wind farms. But an electric-powered plane could carry one or two people a few miles, not 400 people halfway around the world. While Professor Ian Poll, of Cranfield University, says nuclear-powered planes are possible from 2050, a moment’s thought about the consequences of a crash would get holidaymakers googling the Cornish tourist board.

Yet just as world leaders prepare to gather in Copenhagen to discuss draconian cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the aviation industry claims to have discovered a silver bullet that will transform it from carbon criminal into green goddess. Biofuels sourced from crops will, according to the International Air Transport Association, allow aviation to halve its 2005 carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. So confident is it that biofuels will be the carbon-neutral panacea that it claims passenger numbers can still grow over that period from 2.2 billion a year to ten billion. IATA says that fears of biofuel freezing at 35,000ft have been silenced by a handful of demonstration flights, including one last year by Virgin Atlantic.

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By: B. Webster (The Times)
Alternative energy machine may double world food production September 2009

Circle Biodiesel & Ethanol Corporation has announced that their latest patent-pending machinery design enables previously inedible foods such as toxic strains of algae and Jatropha to be edible with an operation that can occur in less than four hours.

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Solazyme Signs U.S. Department of Defense Contract to Develop Navy Fuels from Algae September 2009

Solazyme, Inc., the renewable oil production company and leader in algal synthetic biology, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to research, develop, and demonstrate commercial scale production of algae-derived advanced biofuel that meets the United States Navy’s rigorous specifications for military tactical platforms. Solazyme will utilize its innovative large-scale algal oil production process to provide renewable F-76 Naval Distillate fuel for testing and fuel certification to demonstrate it meets all military specifications and functional requirements.

The contract will further advance research and development on large scale advanced biofuel production from algae. It includes both R&D and fuel delivery components and calls for delivery of over 20,000 gallons of Soladiesel®F-76 Renewable Naval Distillate fuel to the Navy for compatibility testing over the next year. F-76 Naval Distillate is similar to diesel fuel and is the primary shipboard fuel used by the Navy.

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By: Solazyme's website
Algae farm aims to turn carbon dioxide into fuel June 2009

Dow Chemical and Algenol Biofuels, a start-up company, are set to announce Monday that they will build a demonstration plant that, if successful, would use algae to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol as a vehicle fuel or an ingredient in plastics.

Because algae does not require any farmland or much space, many energy companies are trying to use it to make commercial quantities of hydrocarbons for fuel and chemicals. But harvesting the hydrocarbons has proved difficult so far.

The ethanol would be sold as fuel, the companies said, but Dow’s long-term interest is in using it as an ingredient for plastics, replacing natural gas. The process also produces oxygen, which could be used to burn coal in a power plant cleanly, said Paul Woods, chief executive of Algenol, which is based in Bonita Springs, Fla. The exhaust from such a plant would be mostly carbon dioxide, which could be reused to make more algae.

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By: Matthew L. Wald
European body sees reasonable chance for algae power June 2009

Industrial-scale production of bioenergy from algae, or seaweed, has a reasonable chance of occurring but still needs fundamental research, the top official at a newly created bioenergy body said on Wednesday.

Companies around the world are racing to find economical ways to make biofuels from algae, one of the planet's oldest life forms. Such fuels are considered to be net carbon neutral because the algae absorbs greenhouse gases when they grow.

Research into algae-made biofuels has been active in the last three to five years and the big question is when industrial-scale output will take place, said Raffaello Garofalo, executive director of the European Algae Biomass Association (EABA).

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By: Svetlana Kovalyova
The European Algae Biomass Association EABA was successfully created yesterday by 55 founding members June 2009

The EABA was founded in order to foster synergies among science and industry, while cooperating with decision makers for the promotion of development in research and technology in the field of algae. It aims at representing the EU algae biomass sector at European level.

55 members among algae biomass companies, universities and interested parties took part to the foundation of the Association, which counts already 29 industrial members, 19 scientific and 7 individual members.

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Craig Venter Has Algae Biofuel in Synthetic Genomics’ Pipeline June 2009

When renowned genome scientist J. Craig Venter spoke at San Diego’s Connect’s Innovation Summit two months ago, he focused mostly on creating genetically engineered microbes that consume coal to produce natural gas. But a review of Venter’s recent presentations and other information suggests that Synthetic Genomics, the San Diego startup he co-founded, also has a major biofuels initiative underway, as well as other revolutionary projects.

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By: Juha-Pekka Tikka
Notice of Upcomming Funding Opportunity Announcement for "Recovery Act Funding of Development of Algal Biofuels and Advanced Fungible Biofuels through Consortiums" May 2009

The US Department  of Energy, Office of the Biomass Programs (OBP) intends to issue two Recovery Act Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) to address research and development efforts related to intermediate ethanol blends and advanced biofuels, specifically including $50 million for a consortium to accelerate the demonstration of algal biofuels through a competitive solicitation. DOE expects to publish both FOAs in the summer of 2009.

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Genifuel cevelops process to turn algae into natural gas, not biofuel May 2009

A number of companies - Sapphire Energy, Solazyme, and Bionavitas to name a few - are working on methods to convert algae into biofuel. But Genifuel wants to turn the pond scum into something different: natural gas. The company, which has obtained a license from Pacific Northwest National Labs for its technology, is using catalytic hydrothermal gasification to create natural gas out of algae in a quick and efficient manner.

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By: A. Schwartz
Saline waste water found perfect for algae April 2009

Every day, the oil and gas industries produce millions of barrels of process water during the refining process. This stream, which usually ends up being injected back underneath the ground, is considered waste. The Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management (CEHMM) in Carlsbad, N.M., however, has found that the characteristics of this “produce” water are excellent for the cultivation of oil-making algae. “This is a nearly inexhaustible resource that nobody wants,” said Douglas Lynn, executive director for CEHMM.

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By: Nicholas Zeman
OriginOil Announces Breakthrough Process to Extract Oil from Algae April 2009

OriginOil announced today an innovative single-step process to extract oil from algae. In addition to integrating this process into its own production system, OriginOil plans to rapidly commercialize the patent-pending process for use by others in the fast-growing algae industry.

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By: About OriginOil, Inc.
Australian researchers say saltwater algae biodiesel production is at parity with petroleum diesel costs; commercial-scaling is all that is needed March 2009

In Australia, researchers at the national science organization, CSIRO, have concluded that the cost of saltwater algae production is now, based on current science, lower than the cost of diesel from fossil crude oil. In the study, the researchers focused on maximizing the value of biodiesel in economic and carbon terms by co-locating algae production with a power source - for power generation purposes more than CO2 capture.

The full report cautions that translating science into continuous commercial-scale production has not yet been achieved with algae, but also pointed out that algae farms can create up to 37 jobs per 1,000 acres in algae production, and determined that a plant of that size could be economically feasible.

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By: Jim Lane
Biotech's green gold? February 2009

Algae have long been touted as a rich and ubiquitous source of renewable fuel but thus far have failed to be economically competitive with other sources of energy. Could new advances change that? Emily Waltz investigates.

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By: Emily Waltz
Scotland's oldest distillery captures carbon to make biofuel February 2009

Scotland's oldest whisky distillery is taking part in a ground-breaking project to capture its carbon dioxide emissions and turn it into a biofuel using oil-producing algae.

Home to Famous Grouse whisky, the Glenturret distillery in Crieff, Perthshire, is one of Scotland's top tourist attractions - producing whisky since 1775.

It is now the centre of a demonstration project that has just come to the end of its first phase turning boiler exhaust gas into oil that can be used as a biodiesel.

An added benefit of the process is that it cleans up the wastewater from the distillery process, with the algae consuming chemicals and copper residues generated by the fermentation stills.

Having shown that the process works, Scottish Bioenergy Ventures, the company behind the project, is now embarking on an expanded algae reactor system.

The so-called "phase two" of the demonstration project from this summer should see the system capable of producing about 6,000 litres of biofuel during the course of a year - capturing 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process.

Success could lead to a third phase, with a "commercial-sized" algae reactor system that could prove too large for the Glenturret distillery, which is not only Scotland's oldest distillery but also one of its smallest.


By: James Cartledge
Free EUCI Webinar Recording now Available: Utility Scale Algal Based Carbon Capture and Recycle February 2009

Jim Sears presented a 90 minute live interactive webinar hosted by Electric Utility Consultants, Inc. on February 4, 2009. EUCI is graciously providing free viewing of this normally fee-based webinar until April 4, 2009. The webinar touches upon all segments of the nascent algal industry and provides tools and perspective applicable to all future algal industry value chain participants. Live recorded questions and answers from power industry viewers are also included in the webinar. To view the entire 90 minute recording please go to and the program will automatically start. To view an archive of the slides please go to:


By: algae@work
First outdoor, large-scale algae-to-biofuel research project in Nevada January 2009

The first real-world, demonstration-scale project in Nevada for turning algae into biofuel has successfully completed the initial stage of research at the University of Nevada, Reno. The project is on track to show the process is an economical, commercially viable renewable energy source in Nevada.
University researchers have harvested their first outdoor cold-weather crop of algae as part of their collaborative algae-to-biofuels project with their industry partners Enegis, LLC and Bebout and Associates.

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By: Mike Wolterbeek
German algae research association founded; SSC plant aims for 100 tonnes/hectare production January 2009

In Germany, SSC has established a pilot plant for microalgae production in Hamburg-Reitbrook, and the Universities of Bremen and Anhalt have established an algae fuel research association. The SSC TERM plant in Hamburg utilizes CO2 from a nearby power plant and what the company is calling a new type of open-air photobioreactor. The company has set a goal of harvesting 100 tons of microalgae per hectare, and said they need to significantly reduce energy inputs and increase the surface-volume ratio of algae in order to be commercially viable.


By: Jim Lane
Go green: Algae could be next hot biofuel December 2008

A 75-gallon tank of goo that in the course of a week or so changed color from lime green to almost black was one of the stars of last summer's Farnborough International Air Show in England.

As airlines ordered hundreds of planes worth billions of dollars at the world's largest air show, the tank, or bioreactor, was a near-perfect breeding ground for what could become the fuel of the future: the lowly algae.

Aerospace companies and airlines are betting that algae — simple organisms that come in some 30,000 species, many of which can be genetically modified — will prove to be a green fuel that can power jet planes. Algae also could be blended into diesel and gasoline, and perhaps could even replace petroleum-based diesel and gasoline one day.


By: Les Blumenthal | McClatchy Newspapers
PetroSun designs algae-to-biofuel systems for catfish farms December 2008

Algae and bacteria can be used to capture energy from carbon-rich waste streams from coal plants, agricultural farms, food processing facilities, wastewater treatment plants and - yes, catfish farms.

Arizona-based PetroSun Biofuels (Subsidiary of PetroSun) has announced plans to integrate algae systems with catfish farm ponds for commercial algae-to-biofuel operations. PetroSun Biofuels is quickly becoming a biofuel startup with global reach.  It already operates an open algae biofuel farm in Texas, has licensed its technology outside of the US, and is working to launch operations in China.

PetroSun BioFuels and Biomass Partners have identified up to 80,000 acres of catfish ponds within the state of Mississippi that hold the potential for commercial algae bioenergy systems.   Based on PetroSun's annual potential production rate of 2,000 gallons per acre, the existing 80,000 acres of ponds would produce 160 million gallons of algal oil annually for conversion to biodiesel. The remaining algae biomass (e.g. fatty acids) could be processed into ethanol, animal feed, fertilizer and other biomaterial products.

PetroSun is working to secure land surface rights and existing farm ponds located in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas but has not yet announced dates for planned production facilities.


By: Garry Golden
The National Algae Association's Global Initiative to Commercialize Algae for Biofuels November 2008

The National Algae Association announces the formation of regional chapters in the UK, California and Kentucky to help to advance the fast-track commercialization of the algae biofuels industry world-wide and to strengthen global support for the NAA's mission and purpose. Many leading experts on algae, including Sapphire, Solazyme, Valcent, university researchers, plant physiologists and leading algae companies believe algae will be commercialized in the next few years.

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By: B. Cohen (National Algae Association)
Money, research spur race for algae as fuel source November 2008

Could the next green fuel be pea-green pond scum? Supporters think algae could someday be turned into cheap fuel for automobiles and airplanes, and are betting heavily with infusions of venture capital money and intensive research.
About $180 million in venture capital money has been raised for algae research, with more than half coming in the third quarter of this year, according to Cleantech, an industry research group.
Some academic institutes have set up dedicated algae research centers, and a handful of start-ups are planning to test algae on larger demonstration projects in coming months.

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By: Phuong Le
Algae blooms: A new source of energy? October 2008

They may dwell at the bottom of the food chain, but algae are drawing the attention of top scientists at companies such as Boeing, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

The photosynthetic organisms have lived on Earth for a billion years, and some researchers say algae could be a key to helping solve some pressing issues facing the modern world. Big oil and other industrial powerhouses are investing in it as a potential post-ethanol biofuel and even as a means to slow global warming.

But scientists caution that while the possibilities are interesting, the unintended consequences of cultivating algae on a large scale must also be considered.

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By: Mary Ann Colihan
From laboratory to the fuel tank: Advocates say algae has big assets October 2008

Just ask attendees of a conference Friday in The Woodlands that focused on the potential of algae in making renewable fuels.
"It's basically the new petroleum," said Robert Morgan, chief technology officer at PhyCO2, a California firm developing technology for large-scale algae production for biofuels.
He is not alone in the view. Morgan was one of nearly 200 entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and biofuel advocates who gathered for the two-day conference, hosted by the National Algae Association, a trade group based in The Woodlands.

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By: Brett Clanton
Seaweed farms 'could fuel future' October 2008

Pilot seaweed and algae farms are needed to assess Scotland's marine biomass potential, experts have urged.
The recommendation comes in a report on using biomass for heating and fuel while avoiding the use of valuable agricultural land.
Scientists want to see pilot farms and research into the most energy-rich types of seaweed.
The report was carried out by the Scottish Association for Marine Science for The Crown Estate.

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Rapid Growth in the Algae Market; Managing Risk in the Renewables Space October 2008

With over US $180 million in venture capital invested in Algae companies already this year, the market looks ready to explode. That explosion couldn't come soon enough for biodiesel producers who are having trouble getting enough feedstock to meet global demand.
Joseph Muscat, Americas Director of Cleantech and Venture Capital at Ernst and Young, tells us about the high amounts of capital that companies have raised so far in 2008.

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By: Stephen Lacey
PetroSun Helps Turn Algae to Fuel in China September 2008

Energy company PetroSun on Monday said it agreed to a joint-venture with Shanghai Jun Ya Yan Technology Development to build in China a $40 million algae farm whose oil will be refined into biofuels.
Under the deal, PetroSun, of Scottsdale, Arizona, will license its algae-to-biofuel technology to Shanghai Jun, which will provide the funding for the venture.

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By: Justin Moresco
Green Energy: Cost-Efficient Process Expected To Turn Algae Into Fuel September 2008

Set amid cornfields and cow pastures in eastern Holland is a shallow pool that is rapidly turning green with algae, harvested for animal feed, skin treatments, biodegradable plastics -- and with increasing interest, biofuel.

In a warehouse 120 miles southwest, a bioreactor of clear plastic tubes is producing algae in pressure-cooker fashion that its manufacturer hopes will one day power jet aircraft.

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Boeing, UOP, Air France, Virgin, KLM, WWF, NRDC, others form Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group September 2008

In Washington State, Boeing, UOP Honeywell, the World Wildlife Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council are among the organizations that have formed the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group. The Group’s members sign off on a sustainability statement, that commits the members to only use biofuels that do not compete with food or fresh water sources, require minimal land, have a smaller carbon footprint than kerosene-based fuels, and add value to the communities that produce feedstocks. Airlines representing 15 percent of global air traffic, including Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA, Japan Air Lines, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic are members.

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Algae Bloom: Two organizations and countless companies strive to bring the dream of algae biofuels to life September 2008

Occasional observers of the algae biofuels movement were stunned last week when Sapphire Energy, a company which has yet to make a pilot-scale product, concluded its new round of financing by topping the $100 million mark, a first for a biofuels venture. Notable among its investors: Cascade Investments, the personal investment vehicle of Bill Gates; and Venrock Partners, an investment partnership for the Rockefeller family.

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Chevron partners with Solazyme on developing biofuel from algae January 2008

Chevron Corp. is accelerating its research into biofuel derived from algae. On Tuesday, Solazyme Inc. of South San Francisco announced an agreement with the Chevron subsidiary Chevron Technology Ventures to develop and test biodiesel feedstock made from algae.

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By: East Bay Business Times
Department of Defense and NASA look to fuel jets with biofuels July 2007

Both the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are currently funding efforts to explore the use of biofuels for jets. Syntroleum is providing the DOD with 500 gallons of a new renewable jet fuel derived entirely from fats supplied by Tyson Foods, Inc. The fuel will be used for research, development, and performance testing in military jet turbines. Syntroleum recently formed Dynamic Fuels LLC, a joint venture with Tyson Foods, to produce synthetic fuels from animal fats, greases, and vegetable oils. The companies plan to build a plant in the Southwest that will begin production in 2010 with the capacity to produce 75 million gallons of fuel per year. According to Syntroleum, the U.S. Air Force plans to certify all its aircraft to run on alternative fuels by 2010 and wants 50% of its fuel to come from domestic alternative sources by 2016. The most likely sources for such domestic alternative fuels are either biomass or coal. See the Syntroleum press releases on the joint venture and the DOD project.

While Syntroleum is focused on animal fat, a Honeywell subsidiary called UOP LLC intends to produce jet fuel using oils extracted from plants or algae. UOP develops process technology for the refining industry, and the company's technology is geared toward producing feedstocks that can be used in existing refineries. In late June, UOP was awarded $6.7 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop and commercialize a process to produce military jet fuel, known as JP-8, from biomass oils. UOP will work with DOE's Sandia National Laboratories and others to develop the process by the end of next year. UOP has already developed a new process to convert vegetable oils into diesel fuel and plans to build a facility in Italy by 2009. See the UOP press release (PDF 32 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

As DOD works to develop the biofuels, NASA's efforts are directed more toward their use. Reaction Design was selected by NASA in late June to develop software models that simulate the operation of jet engines when fueled with a range of alternative fuels, including biofuels. The company has expertise in modeling combustion and will work with experimental data to create detailed chemical kinetics models for the fuels, which is a critical step in tweaking the chemical components of the fuels to enhance their performance. The models could also be employed to develop new jet engines that can burn the fuels cleanly and efficiently. See the Reaction Design press release.


By: EERE Network News