Despite the promise of algae as a biofuel, many roadblocks are currently keeping the industry from becoming commercialized. For one, it’s expensive — not to mention time consuming — to turn algae into a usable energy source. But things have just gotten a little bit brighter because the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced yesterday that they will invest $24 million into research connected to the commercialization of algae biofuels for the transportation and agriculture industries. They hope this investment will kick start the US on the road to filling our gas tanks with green instead of black.
The investment is going to three consortiums and is part of the US government’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new jobs to bolster the economy. The Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium in Mesa, Arizona will be studying how to turn algae into acceptable replacements for current petroleum products. The Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization in San Diego, California will be researching how to use algae as a robust biofuel feedstock as well as how to develop genetic tools. The Cellana, LLC Consortium in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii will be looking into growing algae in seawater for fuels and feed in addition to researching how to use it as a feed for the aquaculture industry.
“The United States must find effective ways to hasten the development of technologies for advanced biofuels made from algae and other renewable resources to reduce our need for foreign sources of oil,” said Cathy Zoi, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, yesterday as she made the announcement to the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The decision to invest in these three consortiums was a result of the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop where the DOE brought together 200 of the best minds on the subject. They then created the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap which will help guide the US into a successful future renewable algal industry.