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Florida Tech Receives $415,000 State Grant for Algal Biofuels Research

28 January 2008

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has awarded a $415,000 grant to a Florida Tech project for the production of biofuels and animal feed from microalgae. The University is collaborating with Aurora Biofuels Inc. of Alameda, CA., at Florida Tech’s Vero Beach Marine Laboratory.

Aurora will also provide $507,419 toward the project. The company began working with Florida Tech in 2007. The Florida Tech-Aurora Biofuels research focuses on developing biofuel with co-products to enhance animal feed as a means to improve the economics of the fuel-production process.

A key goal is to produce algae biomass with a high content of triglycerides suitable for conversion to biodiesel and with a high content of valuable omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids, which can augment animal feeds.

We will work with Aurora to develop and test algal strains for their long-term outdoor production viability. We also want to harvest the alga by a low-cost sedimentation process for biofuel.

—Junda Lin, Florida Tech director of the Institute for Marine Research

The researchers will enrich, isolate, screen and select algal strains with high oil content; test the performance of selected strains in outdoor ponds; demonstrate mass cultivation of the most promising strains; harvest the cells to yield a concentrated biomass content; and process the biomass to recover valuable co-products.

The new state grant is one of 12 awarded through a $25 million package of renewable energy grants funded by the Florida Legislature.

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I Know this is a very promising area for research and development, Touching more bases when water remediation is included. Great ethical solution, plus real potential re scalable for both quantity, More people and demand balances greater output volume more product. Real world examples of how efficient these and other micro-organisms should hold up much optimism.
Sounds like they will have some good backing.
One day these plants may furnish the technical expertise and infrastructure for all sorts of biology.

What are they going to use for a carbon source? I've heard people suggest that human sewage could be used, and for some arrangements it probably can, with one big caveat.

The reason human sewage is not used for fertilizer is that apparently it contains too much heavy metals, and that nothing should eat plants fertilized that way. That's a vague quote I remember from an environmental sciences professors years ago.


Could they use flue gas from any fossil fuel fired power plant?

It contains lots of CO², which algae should be able to adsorb.

All sorts of fertilizers and water sources contain heavy metals Particularly the chemical industry based products.
Consider that the same heavy metals have already been though the system once whether in the water supply, shared with industrial uses(I guess that's the concern)Or that component that originated in the food chain.
Yes indeed concentrations of heavy metals including copper, silver gold mercury etc plus many other chemical compounds as man can invent or nature can supply.
Certain plant (and other organisms) varieties will concentrate one or more of these 'pollutants' to significant concentrations.
There is one Stackhousia, a dune Genus which concentrates up to 4% dry weight nickel metal This is a high analysis and very viable for processing. This will be found to a greater or lesser degree according to specie and some will be found useful.

http://velocity.ansto.gov.au/velocity/ans0006/article_01.asp

Genetics that favour this aspect may be area for research.
This very aspect is what I suggest be exploited both for Phytomining and on the depleted water is (highly)purified.
This could offset some of our mining and chemical industry inputs.
This would of course need appropriate monitoring, quality assurance steps. But this is not necessarily burdensome. With the design of sensors and automation,
the resultant high quality water stream will have a huge value and yes an increasing no of municipal water supplies are already using re injection to supply.
This is an alternative concept.

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