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Algae Perspectives by Mary Rosenthal

Algae for Military Use

July 20, 2012

More federal funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) came through in June. The FOAs are part of an initiative coordinated between the Navy and Agriculture and Energy departments to support the development and deployment of advanced drop-in biofuels for military use. The efforts are also designed to spur markets for fuel production, and algae producers should consider responding. Among the new FOAs:

From the DoD comes one titled Defense Production Act Title III, Advanced Drop-In Biofuels Production Project, for funding commercial production projects that will include the design, construction and/or retrofit, and operation of a domestic commercial-scale facility that meets a target of at least 10 million gallons per year of neat biofuel production capacity. The deadline for this FOA is August 13, 2012.

Currently in Hawaii the U.S. Navy is conducting its annual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, prominently featuring biofuels operating in a range of ships, planes and other craft. While critics of the Navy’s investment in biofuels are quick to sneer at the “green” benefits of the fuel and of its current premium price tag, they have missed much more important points.

The Navy’s program will not only reduce the strategic vulnerability that comes from relying exclusively on fossil fuels, they will likely improve performance. Because biofuels are more energy efficient, planes can go farther on a gallon of gas. That means they can carry extra payload without sacrificing range.

“…biofuels are more energy efficient, planes can go farther on a gallon of gas.”

Yet critics still blasted the cost of these experimental fuels. They also opposed the efforts of the Departments of Defense and Energy to ramp up production or help create industrial facilities that could reduce those costs.

Many of these voices are the result of election year politics, but there is a real bipartisan opportunity in biofuels that we must be talking about more.

Of course the voices of opposition deserve to be heard, but I believe that hostility can be overcome when the direct impact biofuels will have on people becomes clear. Blue, red and purple states will soon have a growing workforce employed at algae (and other biofuel) production facilities, or in supporting industries that provide services and equipment. This will be a workforce producing Made in America fuels that enhance our energy security, and their very jobs will be strengthening our economy.

Early registration rates for the Algae Biomass Summit will expire on August 13. This year’s Summit will be held September 24-27 in sunny Denver, Colorado at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

Anybody directly or indirectly involved in the algae business should attend this leading industry conference. Whether you are involved in developing food, fuels, fertilizers, supplements, cosmetics or the countless other products algae can provide, this conference is the place to make new connections and find new business opportunities.

We have recently posted an exciting agenda that includes opening remarks by Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett. We will continue to add speakers and discussions through the summer.

Take a look at the breakout sessions in our conference tracks on Biology, Commercialization, Engineering and Analysis, and Finance and Policy.

Leaders with expertise in each of these topic areas have something to offer anybody who is operating, or plans to be, in the algae space.

Reserve your spot today!

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