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Friday, July 17, 2009

Producing Fuel from Algae

Last year I wrote that I felt Oil from Algae was the technology to watch.

Well Exxon is now investing $300 Million into research (Via SGI) in this technology. I consider Exxon to be "smart money".

SGI is harnessing photosynthetic microbes (i.e., algae) to produce a range of liquid fuels and chemicals directly from sunlight and carbon dioxide. Algae produce significantly higher amounts of biomass and oil as compared to terrestrial crops, can be grown on land that is not suitable for agriculture, can thrive in sewage or other types of waste water, and are efficient at capturing and recycling carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.

Current methods to produce fuel from algae include processes that resemble farming. Algal cells are grown, harvested, and then bioprocessed to recover the lipids from within the cells. In contrast, in one of our solutions, SGI has engineered algal cells to secrete oil in a continuous manner through their cell walls, thus facilitating the production of algal fuels and chemicals in large-scale industrial operations. Our first product in this area is a biocrude to be used as a feedstock in refineries

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