go to http://www.aocs.org! Algaetech International — The Future is NowComplete Algae Monitoring System Visit  cricatalyst.com!Nexus — Leaders in Greenhouse Systems Integration

Research

AgriLife Research

A team of researchers that has been working on getting fuel-grade oil out of algae has received a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to help hasten the process, according to Dr. Tim Devarenne, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research biochemist and collaborator on the project. (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)

Texas A&M Scientists Funded to Speed up B. brauni

September 17, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Ateam of researchers at Texas A&M has received a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to help speed up the process getting fuel-grade oil out of algae from the oil-rich alga, Botryococcus braunii.

Known by scientists for more than 100 years, B. braunii is the shirker of the algae world, seemingly floating aimlessly in bubbling tanks of water in no hurry to grow up and be pressed into oil. Other algae go through life as self-starters on a fast-track to success but don’t produce oil like B. braunii. The researchers want the useful traits from each to commingle.

“We’re interested in taking the genetic information out of the slow-growing alga – the genetic information for producing the hydrocarbons – and transferring that into a faster growing alga,” said Dr. Tim Devarenne, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research biochemist and collaborator on the project. “Then maybe we can more economically produce these oils.”

For his part of the study, Devarenne will study the B. braunii’s molecular biology to find out what genes are responsible for production of the oil. His lab will also try to understand the function of those genes and how they contribute to the production of the oil. “By understanding the molecular mechanisms, we can maybe manipulate the algae to produce more or better oil,” he said.

Another key aspect to these studies is encouraging B. braunii to live life in the fast lane, Devarenne explained, using a device invented by Dr. Arum Han, lead researcher on the project and a professor of electrical engineering at Texas A&M University. Called a “microfluidic lab-on chip,” the device is about the size of a business card but has hundreds to thousands of microscopic wells, Devarenne said.

“These little wells can each hold an individual alga cell, and we can treat each well differently in terms of media compositions or light amounts, for example,” he explained. “So we can see how different parameters affect growth rate, oil production and biomass accumulation.

“In that little microfluidic device, we can screen hundreds to thousands of different growth conditions at once and do in a week’s time what in a normal lab atmosphere would take probably a year to screen. Essentially we can miniaturize everything and screen high volumes of algae to find optimal growth conditions to make the best amount of oil,” Devarenne said.

When the fast-growing traits have been combined with the hydrocarbon-producing capabilities in one alga, team member Dr. Tzachi Samocha with AgriLife Research in Corpus Christi will help determine how to grow it on a large scale.

Upon completion of those studies, Devarenne said, the team may work with the fuel industry to scale up production even farther.“If we can produce an alga that produces high amounts of oil and grows fast,” he said, “an industry partner could grow large amounts of it, extract the oil, convert that oil into gasoline or diesel fuel and sell it just like at a normal gasoline pump.”

Also collaborating on the project are Dr. David Stern from the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and Dr. Jefferson Tester from Cornell University.

–Kathleen Phillips, ka-phillips@tamu.edu

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2012 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required 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
Heliae, SCHOTT North America and Arizona State University (ASU) have announced a partnership to bring Heliae’s algae production technology to ASU’s algae testbed facility...
Natural carotenoid specialists Piveg Inc., with production facilities based in Celaya, Central Mexico, has announced immediate availability of natural astaxanthin materia...
The University of Greenwich is leading a €10m international project, called the ‘D-Factory,’ to build a biorefinery to develop the microalga Dunaliella as a sustainable r...
Biomass abounds on Earth, as forests, fields, sewage and seaweed. But only a small fraction, mostly human or agricultural waste, can be harvested without posing environme...
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...
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...
Algatechnologies (“Algatech”), Israel, has announced a more than 100% expansion of its production capacity of AstaPure® brand natural astaxanthin. This doubling of capaci...
One of 12 winners of the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the Ooho algae balloon was created by three London-based designers to contribute a solution to the rising number of plas...
Libourne, France-based Fermentalg, an industrial biotechnology company that specializes in the production of oils and proteins derived from microalgae, has completed a su...
As the number of photobioreactors in an algae growing operation increases, there is a need for both autonomous control and monitoring of individual PBRs, as well as centr...
Yereth Rosen reports in the Anchorage Daily News that scientists at North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute have found extremely high levels o...
By sending algae into space, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist and his team will be able to study some of the key mechanisms that control plant growth and...
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 ...
Kazuaki Nagata reports from Japan that while the Fukushima nuclear disaster has prompted vigorous discussion about alternative energy in Japan, there is a lack of a paral...
Jamie Radford writes in the Illawarra Mercury that Pia Winberg, from the University of Wollongong, believes that the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) is in...
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...
Algae manufacturer Cyanotech Corporation has announced implementing three major initiatives to improve Astaxanthin production at their Kailua Kona, Hawaii-based cultivati...
Biofuels derived from the oils produced by algae may offer a low-cost sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. To achieve this goal, optimization of cost effective strate...