The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Arizona State University a $6 million grant as part of a program focused on algae-based biofuels.

The program supports the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector – a goal of DOE’s continued effort to spur the creation of a domestic bio-industry while creating jobs. This round of DOE funding totals $24 million for three research groups to tackle key hurdles in the commercialization of algae-based biofuels.


The ASU-led group, the Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium, will focus on testing the acceptability of algal biofuels as replacements for petroleum-derived fuels. The group will investigate biochemical conversion of algae to fuels and products, and analyze the physical chemistry properties of algal fuels and fuel intermediates. In addition to ASU, other core members of the consortium are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colo., and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque.

“ASU has been in the vanguard of algae research for more than 30 years and already knows how to make liquid transportation fuels from algae,” said Gary Dirks, chief executive of the consortium. “Now we need to answer the next question: How do we make it economical and help move our country into a more sustainable energy future?”

Dirks also is director of LightWorks, an ASU initiative focused on advanced solar-based energy and other light-inspired research.

The two other projects funded by the DOE program are:

The Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization, San Diego, is led by the University of California, San Diego, and will concentrate on developing algae as a biofuels feedstock. DOE committed $9 million for this project.

The Cellana LLC Consortium, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, is led by Cellana LLC, and will examine large-scale production of fuels and feed from microalgae grown in seawater. DOE has committed $9 million for the project.

“Partnerships such as these focus the creative powers of the public, private and academic sectors on key challenges facing the development of renewable energy for transportation,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi, while announcing the awards. “The United States must find effective ways to hasten the development of technologies for advanced biofuels made from algae and other renewable resources to reduce our need for foreign sources of oil.”

Skip Derra,


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