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ASU scores chunk of $10M DOE funding for bioenergy R&D

May 16, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

ASU-DOEThe U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $10 million in funding for six projects representing innovative technologies and solutions to advance bioenergy development. These projects, located in Arizona, California, North Carolina, Delaware, and Illinois, will support the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) work “to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from non-food biomass feedstocks by reducing the technical risk associated with potentially breakthrough approaches and technologies for investors.”

Two of the selected projects will be performed at Arizona State University, involving cyanobacteria and algae. The cyanobacteria project will engineer the blue-green algae for the production of ethyl laurate, which is easily converted to “drop-in” ready biofuels or bioproducts. The process uses carbon dioxide (CO2), water, and light as the main inputs, and does not waste carbon and energy by limiting the amount of biomass produced.

This is a “one-stop-shop” cyanobacterial platform that generates liquid transportation fuel from CO2 and water with sunlight as the energy input. The proposed project is expected to lead to an economically competitive yield of an immediate biofuel produced directly from CO2 under the influence of sunlight.

The second project will develop mixotrophic algae that can consume both CO2 and cellulosic sugars, and significantly improve algal biomass growth. These heat-tolerant strains will be grown in photobioreactors, potentially reducing evaporation and eliminating the need for cooling. There are estimates that this project could reach five times current algal production rates. This type of increased production rate will significantly reduce the cost of enclosed algal cultivation systems and will boost total fuel potential, especially in the southwest United States.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) was created to accelerate the development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Learn more about EERE’s work with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners in bioenergy technologies.

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