Research

Texas A&M’s Algae Research Facility at Crane High, in Pecos, Texas

Texas A&M’s Algae Research Facility at Crane High, in Pecos, Texas

Texas A&M Algae Biofuel Tests Show Promise

April 1, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Texas AgriLife Research comprises 13 research centers from El Paso to Beaumont and Amarillo to Weslaco, along with associated research stations, all dealing with research into the agricultural issues of: plant diseases and animal parasites, grass and forage production, and the economical feeding of dairy and beef cattle. A member of The Texas A&M University System, AgriLife Research has 1,700 employees, 375 of which are doctoral-level scientists.

Over the past two years, Texas AgriLife Research has been operating as a component of a $44 million, multi-institution, multi-state consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct algae research and development for commercial, domestic biofuel production. Additional funding was awarded in part as a result of research advancements at AgriLife’s Pecos facility and expands the scope of study to include algal coproducts, such as feedstock for the livestock and mariculture industries.

Kelly Tucker has written an update in UWire outlining current research at Texas A&M University to improve algae biofuels using a method to create a hydrocarbon fuel similar to gasoline or diesel that is more energy dense, which the researchers claim makes for a more versatile fuel source that is usable in aircraft.

The research group also aims to create methods that would generate higher yields from algae. “For the algae to be useful as a biofuel, there are some technical barriers. For example, extracting lipids is very difficult because it is very costly,” said Shangxian Xie, plant pathology graduate student. “Right now we are developing technology to harvest the algae more cheaply by cultivating it into a pellet so you only need a filter to harvest it.”

Xie said this new method allows for a three-to-four-fold increase in yield. Another method the research group is examining involves photorespiration, an alternative to photosynthesis, where sugar is combined with oxygen. Photorespiration is not as efficient as photosynthesis and typically causes a quarter of the carbon to be lost. Joshua Yuan, assistant professor in the department of plant pathology and microbiology, is exploring ways to use this lost carbon as an energy source.

“The pathway takes the excess carbon normally lost and shunts it towards hydrocarbon synthesis. So now you have a system that just needs light, water, carbon dioxide and some minimal nutrients to produce hydrocarbons,” said Ryan Syrenne, molecular and environmental plant sciences graduate student.

Other methods currently studied by the researchers to improve algae’s use as a biofuel source involve using genes from various algae species to create a type of algae that excels in efficiency, growth and yield.

Yuan said by the time algae biofuel becomes marketable, at around $5 per gallon in the next decade or two, it will be a much cheaper and viable option compared to gasoline that will possibly sport a double-digit price tag by then. In the meantime, “My next dream is artificial photosynthesis,” Yuan said. “We are only limited by our resources.”

Read More

Go to HOME Page

Copyright ©2010-2012 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Natural carotenoid specialists Piveg Inc., with production facilities based in Celaya, Central Mexico, has announced immediate availability of natural astaxanthin materia...
Scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have demonstrated that just two of six iron-sulfur-containing ferredoxins in a represent...
In a global scenario where increasing attention is being directed towards issues of sustainability and limited food supplies, algal sources offer immense scope for the ra...
Solazyme, Inc. has announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. “2013 was a year of great progress for Solazyme as we readied our first...
Valensa International and Contract Biotics have announced that Contract Biotics has started construction of an additional six acres of algae production units at the compa...
Technical standards define critical terms and metrics to add wisdom for the algae industry. Agreement among science and business leaders represents possibly the most diff...
Libourne, France-based Fermentalg, an industrial biotechnology company that specializes in the production of oils and proteins derived from microalgae, has completed a su...
“Proterro has reached its Q1 sugar-production pilot milestones,” CEO Kef Kasdin reported at the recent Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference, in Washington, D.C. “In fo...
Algenist®, Solazyme’s anti-aging skincare brand featuring microalgae, has announced its launch in Nordstrom locations throughout the United States. The launch into Nordst...
Although the use of whole microalgae in animal diets has long been studied, the 
de-fatted biomass of microalgal species, derived from biofuel production research, has on...
The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) released the following statement calling on the EPA to include Carbon Capture and Utilization strategies in rules proposed June 2, 20...
A new, outdoor system at the University of Dayton Research Institute has been producing a high volume of algae since its installation in the summer of 2013, even through ...
Gilbert, AZ-based Heliae has announced a partnership with Sincere Corporation, a Japanese waste management and recycling company, to form a joint venture and develop a co...
Kyae Mone Win reports in the Myanmar Times that spirulina has been harvested from Twin Daung lake in Sagaing’s Bu Ta Lin township for over a decade, but climate change an...
Starting in the early 70s, agencies in the former USSR invested more than 20,000 person-years of research and development to produce Bio-Algae Concentrates (BAC) that hel...
Following a request from the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) was recently asked t...
James “Jamie” Levine took over the reigns at Sapphire Energy in July of this year as former President and CEO Cynthia “CJ” Warner stepped down, retaining her role as chai...
With their new CO₂ processing-platform called AstaCos, AlgaeBiotech can produce waxy particles of only 50-100 µm in size with a loading of 25% astaxanthin oleoresin. The ...