Benzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon, is a natural component of crude oil and is one of the elementary petrochemicals. It is used as a precursor to the manufacture of more complex chemicals, and, with a high octane number, is an important component of gasoline. Researchers at the University of Konstanz in... Read more →


ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics algae biofuels program targets 10,000 barrels per day by 2025

ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Inc. announced a new phase in their joint algae biofuel research program (earlier post) that could lead to the technical ability to produce 10,000 barrels of algae biofuel per day by 2025. The new phase of research includes an outdoor field study that will grow naturally... Read more →


Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have demonstrated a novel integrated conversion process for algal biomass to produce fuel and chemical products of sufficient quality to be blend-ready feedstocks for further processing. A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Green Chemistry. Biomass from the... Read more →


Lawrence Livermore partners with GALT on $1.5M project to improve biofuel algae

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been awarded a 3-year, $1.5-million grant by the US Department of Energy to improve the growth and efficiency of biofuel-producing algae through the alteration of their microbiomes. LLNL will partner with San Francisco-based General Automation Lab Technologies (GALT) in the use of a novel high-throughput... Read more →


Joint ASU, Tel Aviv Univ. project to improve algal hydrogen production to industrial scale

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $400,000 grant (Nº 1706960) to Arizona State University and Kevin Redding, professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and director of the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis (CB&P) to obtain industrial-scale algal hydrogen production—a goal that requires an improvement over current technology by... Read more →


Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have been awarded $5.7 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) Program for two projects that develop tools and technology to advance the mass production of seaweed for biofuels and bio-based chemicals.... Read more →


WSU, PNNL researchers convert algal biofuel waste from hydrothermal liquefaction into commodity using anaerobes; sewage sludge next

Researchers at Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have devised a method of converting a waste product generated by the conversion of algae into bio-crude into a usable and valuable commodity. The results of the team’s research are published in the journal Bioresource Technology. Converting algae to biofuels... Read more →


J. Craig Venter Institute-led team awarded $10.7M by DOE to boost lipid production in diatoms for next-gen biofuels and bioproducts

Scientists led by the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit genomic research organization, were recently awarded a 5-year, $10.7-million grant by the United States Department of Energy, Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research (BER), BER Genomic Science Program to optimize metabolic networks in model photosynthetic microalgae, called diatoms.... Read more →


Researchers from Boyce Thompson Institute and Texas A&M University have developed algal droplet bioreactors on a chip that can accelerate the search for optimized algal strains for the production of biofuels. The new high-throughput droplet microfluidics-based screening platform can analyze growth and lipid content in populations derived from single cells... Read more →


DOE awarding up to $3.5M to additional algal biomass yield project

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected one additional project, for up to $3.5 million, as part of the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO’s) Advanced Algal Systems Program funding opportunity announcement (FOA). For Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2 (ABY2), in Fiscal Year 2016, DOE awarded $15 million for three projects.... Read more →


NREL team demonstrates sustainable process for conversion of algal lipids to renewable diesel

A team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has demonstrated a sustainable process for converting crude extracted algal lipids to renewable diesel fuel via bleaching, deoxygenation, and hydroisomerization. A paper on their study is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. They explored the effects of bleaching (using... Read more →


ARPA-E to award $22M to 18 projects to accelerate production of macroalgae for energy and other uses; MARINER

The Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will award $22 million in funding to 18 projects as part of the Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program. (Earlier post.) MARINER projects are to develop the tools to enable the United States to become a leading producer of... Read more →


DOE selects 4 more algae technology projects for up to $8.8M in funding; > $16M total

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected four additional projects from the Productivity Enhanced Algae and ToolKits funding opportunity (earlier post) to receive up to $8.8 million. These projects are intended to deliver high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms in order to reduce the... Read more →


French team finds light-driven algal enzyme that converts fatty acids to hydrocarbons

A team of researchers in France has discovered an algal photoenzyme that catalyzes the decarboxylation of free fatty acids to n-alkanes or -alkenes in response to blue light. In a paper in the journal Science, the researchers suggest that the photoenzyme, which they named fatty acid photodecarboxylase, may be useful... Read more →


HelioBioSys, Sandia Labs, Berkeley Lab partnering on sugar-producing cyanobacteria for biofuel production

HelioBioSys has patented a group of three marine cyanobacteria that, when grown together, can produce high quantities of sugar just right for making biofuels. Sandia National Laboratories is helping HelioBioSys Inc. learn whether farming them on a large scale would be successful. Until the early 1900s, cyanobacteria were mistaken for... Read more →


Researchers develop cheaper, greener biofuels processing catalyst using waste metals and bacteria

A team from the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, with colleagues from the University of Birmingham and Aarhus University, have developed a nanosized bio-Pd/C catalyst for upgrading algal bio-oil. Published in an open-access paper in the journal Fuel, their findings point to a cheaper, more environmentally friendly... Read more →


New biofilm reactor accelerates algae growth

Washington State University (WSU) researchers have developed a unique biofilm reactor that recycles gasses and uses less water and lower light than typical reactors. The new reactor grows algae more efficiently—in days instead of weeks—and makes the algae more viable for several industries, including biofuels. The main fatty acids produced... Read more →


DOE to award up to $8M to three algae-based biofuels projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected three projects to receive up to $8 million, aimed at reducing the costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts. These projects are to deliver high-impact tools and techniques for increasing the productivity of algae organisms and cultures. They will also deliver biology-focused... Read more →


ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics double lipid production in algae species without inhibiting growth

ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Inc. reported a breakthrough in their joint research (earlier post) into advanced biofuels involving the modification of an algae strain that more than doubled its oil content without significantly inhibiting the strain’s growth. Using advanced cell engineering technologies at Synthetic Genomics, the ExxonMobil-Synthetic Genomics research team... Read more →


Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with colleagues from Los Alamos, Sandia and NREL, are working to lower the cost of producing biofuels from algae. The project, called the Development of Integrated Screening, Cultivar Optimization, and Validation Research (DISCOVR), is funded by the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and has created... Read more →


Researchers uncover mechanism behind oil synthesis in algae

Researchers led by a team from Kobe University in Japan have revealed the mechanism behind oil synthesis within microalgae cells. Many species of algae are capable of producing large amounts of oil (lipids), but this is the first time that researchers have captured the metabolic changes occurring on a molecular... Read more →


Synthetic Genomics and ExxonMobil renew algae biofuels research agreement

Synthetic Genomics and ExxonMobil have extended their agreement to conduct joint research into advanced algae biofuels after making significant progress in understanding algae genetics, growth characteristics and increasing oil production. ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics have been jointly researching and developing oil from algae for use as a renewable, lower-emission alternative... Read more →


The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released its new strategic plan, titled Strategic Plan for a Thriving and Sustainable Bioeconomy. The strategic plan—with a vision for 2040—lays out BETO’s mission to accomplish its vision in a dynamic setting that realizes changes in the energy landscape, advances in... Read more →


ARPA-E announced up to $25 million in funding for the MacroAlgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program (DE-FOA-0001726). The program will focus on developing advanced cultivation technologies that enable the cost and energy efficient production of macroalgal biomass in the ocean at a scale suitable as feedstock for the... Read more →


DOE to award up to $8M to develop algae-based biofuels

The US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE's) Bioenergy Technologies Office announced a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001628) of up to $8 million, subject to appropriations, for innovative technologies and approaches to help advance bioenergy and bioproducts from algae. This FOA, entitled “Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits,”... Read more →


Members of the Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC), led by Duke University in North Carolina, have published an open-access paper in the journal Oceanography presenting the large-scale industrial cultivation of marine microalgae (ICMM) as an answer to pressing global energy, food and climate security issues. Underpinned by numerous prior research... Read more →


DOE BETO to issue $8M funding opportunity for algae-based biofuels

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) plans (DE-FOA-0001708) to issue a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001628) for up to $8 million, subject to appropriations, for the development of algae-based biofuels. The FOA, entitled Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits (PEAK), will support innovative technologies and approaches to help advance... Read more →


A new analysis from Argonne National Laboratory, funded by the US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), shows the potential of an algae fractionation process to produce renewable diesel fuel with 63%–68% lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than conventional diesel. The study is published in the journal Algal Research.... Read more →


ARPA-E to issue funding opportunity for advanced technologies for seaweed cultivation for fuels and chemicals

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA–E) intends to issue a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA ) in November, 2016, for the development of advanced cultivation technologies that enable profitable and energy efficient production of macroalgal-biomass (seaweeds) in the ocean. ARPA–E held a workshop on this topic in February... Read more →


DOE to award up to $6.7M to projects to convert captured CO2 to useful products, including fuels

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award approximately $6.7 million in federal funding for cost-shared projects that will develop technologies that utilize CO2 from coal-fired power plants to produce useful products. DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy is seeking these projects as part of the Department’s Carbon Storage program, which... Read more →


DOE awarding $15M to 3 algae-based biofuel and bioproducts projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding up to $15 million for three projects aimed at reducing the production costs of algae-based biofuels and bioproducts through improvements in algal biomass yields. These projects will develop highly productive algal cultivation systems and couple those systems with effective, energy-efficient, and low-cost... Read more →


RIT and Synergy Biogas partner on algae for wastewater cleanup and biofuel production

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Synergy Biogas are exploring the environmental benefits of microalgae to clean agricultural wastewater and make biofuels. Jeff Lodge, associate professor in RIT’s Thomas Gosnell School of Life Sciences, is running a three-month pilot program at Synergy Biogas, a high-tech anaerobic digester located on Synergy... Read more →


DOE awards up to $10M to 6 projects for non-food biomass and algal biofuels and biochemicals

The US Department of Energy is awarding up to $10 million in funding for six projects that will support the Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) work to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels and biochemicals from non-food biomass feedstocks by reducing the technical risk associated with potentially breakthrough approaches and technologies for... Read more →


Consortium for Algal Biofuel Commercialization releases final report on 6-year project

The Consortium for Algal Biofuel Commercialization (CAB-Comm), led by the University of California, San Diego, has released its final report, detailing the accomplishments and contributions achieved in its six years of operation. CAB-Comm was established in 2010 through a competitive award from the Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) to... Read more →


Texas A&M-led team identifies synthetic hydrocarbon pathway in green alga B. braunii

The green microalga Botryococcus braunii is considered a promising biofuel feedstock producer due to its prodigious accumulation of hydrocarbon oils that can be converted into fuels. Now, a team led by researchers from Texas A&M AgriLife Research has identified the first committed step in the biosynthesis of hydrocarbon oil in... Read more →


China team identifies new thermophilic bacterium for direct production of ethanol from brown algae

Researchers from the Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences have identified and characterized the first thermophilic bacterium capable (Defluviitalea phaphyphila) of direct conversion of brown algae to ethanol. D. phaphyphila Alg1 can simultaneously utilize mannitol, glucose, and alginate... Read more →


A new biorefinery process developed by scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has proven to be significantly more effective at producing ethanol from algae than previous research. The process, dubbed Combined Algal Processing (CAP), is detailed in an open-access paper in the journal Algal Research. The... Read more →


DOE to award up to $15M for Advancements In Algal Biomass Yield, Phase 2

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award (DE-FOA-0001471) up to $15 million in funding to develop technologies that are likely to succeed in producing 3,700 gallons of algal biofuel intermediate (or equivalent dry weight basis) per acre per year (gal/acre/yr) on an annualized average basis (not peak or projected)... Read more →


Sandia, ASU collaborate on algae computational modeling, look for algae pond predators

Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State University (ASU) have teamed up to improve computational models of algae growth in raceway ponds that can predict performance, improve pond design and operation and discover ways to improve algae yield outdoors. In addition, Sandia and ASU will further develop spectro-radiometric techniques to monitor... Read more →


NREL team identifies major metabolic pathway in cyanobacteria for efficient conversion of CO2; better biofuels and bioproducts

Scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have discovered that a metabolic pathway previously only suggested to be functional in photosynthetic organisms is actually a major pathway and can enable efficient conversion of carbon dioxide to organic compounds. The discovery provides new insight into the complex metabolic network for... Read more →


euglena planning commercial production of biojet and renewable diesel from algae in Japan

Japan-based euglena Co. plans to produce and supply biojet and renewable diesel in Japan at commercial scale in the 2020s with support from the City of Yokohama, Chiyoda Corporation, Itochu Enex Co., Isuzu Motors and All Nippon Airways (ANA). The company will build Japan’s first demonstration plant for the production... Read more →


PNNL team presents new insight into H2 production by cyanobacterium Cyanothece

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have presented a new and more complete view on the way a cyanobacterium—Cyanothece 51142—produces hydrogen. Using genome-scale transcript and protein profiling, the team study presented and tested a new hypothesis on the metabolic relationship between oxygenic photosynthesis... Read more →


Study: marine cyanobacteria produce 100s of millions of tonnes of hydrocarbons annually

An international team of researchers, led by the University of Cambridge, has estimated that photosynthetic marine cyanobacteria annually produce hundreds of millions of tonnes of hydrocarbons in the oceans. These organisms in turn support another population of bacteria that feed on these compounds. In the study, conducted in collaboration with... Read more →


Michigan State partners with ExxonMobil to advance algae biofuels

A new $1-million relationship between Michigan State University and ExxonMobil will expand research designed to progress the fundamental science required to advance algae-based fuels. David Kramer, MSU’s John Hannah Distinguished Professor in Photosynthesis and Bioenergetics at the MSU-DOE Plant and Research Laboratory (PRL), says that the overall goal of the... Read more →


Algenol signs MOU with ZYNE to produce renewable fuels in China using industrial CO2 emissions

US-based algal fuels company based Algenol will partner with South China’s Fujian Zhongyuan New Energy Company, Ltd. (ZYNE) to develop projects throughout Southern China, utilizing carbon emissions to create renewable fuels. The goal is to provide solutions for China’s three biggest challenges: access to clean air, clean water and sustainable... Read more →


MSU researchers fabricate synthetic protein that streamlines carbon fixing machinery of cyanobacteria; potential boost for biofuels

Researchers at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, have fabricated a synthetic protein that not only improves the assembly of the carbon-fixing factory of cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae), but also provides a proof of concept for a device that could potentially improve plant photosynthesis or be... Read more →


Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and colleagues have engineered the Nannochloropsis algal strain NIES-2145 to enhance the production of fat-based molecules called triacylglycerols (TAGs), thereby increasing oil synthesis from the microalgae. The study’s results suggest that the specific gene promoter used in this work could also be applied... Read more →


Japan-based global automotive supplier DENSO Corporation will build a large 20,000 square meter test facility for the culture of Pseudochoricystis ellipsoidea, an oil-producing microalga patented by DENSO. The new facility located in Amakusa, Kumamoto, Japan will be used to perform verification tests needed to establish large-scale microalga cultivation technologies required... Read more →


The EMS (Earth and Mineral Science) Energy Institute at Penn State has developed a conceptual novel process configuration for producing clean middle-distillate fuels from coal with some algal input with minimal emissions. The Institute was involved for about 20 years in a project intended to develop a coal-derived jet fuel;... Read more →


Algae naturally produce oils that can be converted into transportation fuels, making this a potentially attractive pathway for large-scale biofuel production. However, high-yield lipid production in algae is a stress response—induced, for example, through conditions such as nutrient deprivation. One of the challenges of optimizing this oil production pathway has... Read more →