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National algae testbed kicks off at ASU

April 22, 2013

Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) members gather at Arizona State University in front of a shuttle with algae images and the words "algae + sun = fuel." Partners from around the nation met at Arizona State University to discuss algae research and solutions.

Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) members gather at Arizona State University in front of a shuttle with algae images and the words “algae + sun = fuel.” Partners from around the nation met at Arizona State University to discuss algae research and solutions.

Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) members from across the U.S. gathered at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus April 15-18 for their national kickoff meetings to discuss strategies for advancing research and development of algae-based technologies for biofuels and other valuable coproducts.

Led by the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) at ASU, representatives from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Cellana, Touchstone Research Laboratory, Valicor Renewables, California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Commercial Algae Management are partners in the recently formed ATP3. Their mutual goals are to facilitate innovation, empower knowledge creation and accelerate growth of the emergent algal energy industry via this high-level collaboration.

The ATP3 project is made possible by a $15 million U.S. Department of Energy competitive grant from its Bioenergy Technologies Office. This funding allows ATP3 to support the operation of existing outdoor algae cultivation systems and produce algae that can be used for real-world solutions such as biofuel.

During the kickoff meeting, members of ATP3 strategized how to effectively meet the needs of testbed users across the world and collaboratively produce relevant data and standard analytical and production methods to inform algae-based solutions for the energy, carbon capture and scale-up needs of public and private markets.

“The ATP3 kickoff meeting gave all of the partners of ATP3 a chance to discuss how we will support public and private institutions in finding solutions to the nation’s energy challenges,” said Gary Dirks, director of ATP3, and ASU LightWorks, the university initiative that pulls light-inspired research at ASU under one strategic framework. “Working together, we will push the envelope on algae-based sciences and produce usable, sustainable solutions to carbon capture and fuel needs – to name a few.”

The ATP3 framework allows the partners to work individually within their own institutions or collaboratively, to coordinate analytical and technical support from the larger ATP3 network. Partner testbed facilities are located in Arizona, Hawaii, California, Ohio and Georgia.

“The framework we are creating at ATP3 is unprecedented,” said John McGowen, Portfolio Manager in ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development’s Project Management Office and Director of Operations and Program Management for ATP3. “By providing closely coordinated, harmonized and objective standards for algal production and biomass compositional analysis protocols across our network of testbed facilities, we will have the ability to reduce the uncertainties around biomass productivity, oil compositional quality and yields. ATP3 will make these standardized and validated methods, as well as the high impact data from our long term cultivation feedstock trials accessible to the algal biofuels modeling and R&D community.”

The collaborative effort of ATP3 also helps partner agencies advance their own goals.

“Partnering with industry leaders through the ATP3 framework enables collaboration to more quickly solve underlying challenges in support of commercial algae technology solutions,” said Dr. Lee Tonkovich, Vice President of Research & Development at Heliae LLC, an algae technology company in Gilbert, Ariz.

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