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Ireland says Competitive Algal Biofuels within 15 Years

September 5, 2012

Daithi O'Mhurchu Marine Research Station

Daithi O'Mhurchu Marine Research Station is becoming Ireland’s first commercial algae production facility for biofuel.

Mark Keenan writes in The Independent that within 15 years, Irish drivers will be filling up their vehicles with biofuel made from Irish grown algae. The projection comes from Julie Maguire, of Daithi O’Mhurchu Marine Research Station (DOMRS), in Bantry, which is set to become Ireland’s first commercial algae production facility for biofuel.

The County Cork-based research facility, which began experimenting with growing algae three years ago funded by a Marie Curie grant from the EU, is now preparing a business plan to go fully commercial as an algae producer when the grant expires in just over a year.

According to Ms. Maguire, the facility’s project manager, the center has thus far been focused on selecting the most oil productive strain of algae for Irish conditions, as well as creating the ideal conditions for them to grow in. The facility produces algae in cycles from a series of six metre square shallow tanks using selected algae cultures.

Irish algae crops appear to be doing best in outdoor locations, thus eliminating the need for expensive, built accommodation, according to Ms. Maguire. The main obstacles remaining are finding more efficient ways of harvesting the algae and encouraging growth in winter months.

“We aim to grow, harvest and process the fuel on site. So the processing work to make the biofuel can be done in the darker months,” she said.

The Marine Research Station currently has seven partners on board including two Turkish universities as well as Green Biofuels Ireland, which operates one of the world’s most efficient biofuel plants at New Ross.

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