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Arizona State Spins Out Technology for Algal Bio-Kerosene for Jet Fuel

Arizona State University (ASU) has entered into a research and commercialization collaboration with Heliae Development, LLC and Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) to develop, produce and sell bio-kerosene-based aviation fuel derived from algae.

This biofuel project will focus on the commercial production of kerosene from algae using patented technologies developed by Professors Qiang Hu and Milton Sommerfeld at ASU’s Laboratory for Algae Research & Biotechnology. The research efforts of Hu and Sommerfeld in algal-based biofuels and biomaterials have already moved from the laboratory to field pilot-scale demonstration and production.

Hu and Sommerfeld have identified specific algal strains that can convert a significant portion of their cellular mass into oil comprising a group of medium-chain (C10–C14) fatty acids which, after deoxygenation treatment, closely mirrors the length of the hydrocarbon chains found in kerosene.

Kerosene, when mixed with minor amounts of fuel additives, is known as JP8 or Jet A, suitable for use in jet aviation applications. A competitive advantage of the medium-chain fatty acid-based kerosene production is elimination of an expensive chemical or thermal cracking process, which is otherwise necessary for long-chain fatty acids commonly found in animal fat, vegetable oils, and typical algae oils.

Heliae Development, LLC (Heliae) was recently formed by several out-of-state private equity investors for the purpose of licensing and developing these algal strains for jet fuel. The company will lease space at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.

Under the license agreement with Heliae, Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), the technology venturing arm of ASU, will receive an equity stake in the company along with other standard forms of consideration including licensing fees and a share of any commercialization income. In addition, Heliae will provide research funding of $1.5 million to ASU to support further development of the specific algal strains towards commercial production of jet fuel. The Heliae funding will be matched dollar for dollar by a Strategic Research Group award from SFAz, so that ASU will receive a total of $3 million for the project.

In August, Hu and Sommerfeld shared their findings and research on the application of algae-based oils for creating biofuels at the Farnborough International Air Show in the UK. An exhibit related to the work was part of a collaboration and ongoing relationship between the researchers and Boeing.

Boeing has committed a $225,000 grant to support ongoing algae research at ASU, and to provide three scholarships for graduate students. Hu and Sommerfield are also part of a team led by UOP, a Honeywell company, that is looking at developing and commercializing a process to produce JP-8 from algae. (Earlier post.) As part of that project, Hu and Sommerfeld screen for oil-rich algal strains, evaluate their potential as oil producers and develop an algal feedstock production system that will yield competitively priced oil that can be converted into jet fuel.



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This is rather exiting

I havent had much goood to say about bio reactors, but now see at least one advantage.
that it is a good environment in which to investigate and develop these algae.


This is very, very promising - I love the thought of the mass production of jet fuel from refineries using algae.


These researchs are just state criminality. All algae and all hydrogen energy technologies are discovered since long time. These madscientists work for rich monopolies and they 'patent' simple technologies to impede anyone to enter the market to collect money from it and make a simple and honest living. They never stop saying that it's not discovered yet and that they need time and more money to try to find a solution but the truth is that is so simple and can be on the market now and forever. They live by starving the people out of everything, food, energy, patent,knowledge, etc. If there were no energy security laws there will be abondant energy on the market to choose from, algae fuel, petrol, fuel from garbage liquid and gazeous, hydrogen from solar or wind or grid or any numerous other methods discovered by madscientists or just plain amator in their backyard.


"Boeing has committed a $225,000 grant..."

I don't think that the University is getting rich off of this, but rather Boeing like the automakers sees that they are dependent on the oil industry for their future and they would like to have an alternate plan.

Uncle B

Great! When the great economic crunch comes we won't have to chase down fat Republicans and render their asses for our Diesels, we can use this stuff!


@ Uncle B:

Easy now....there are plenty of fat slob democrat government & factory workers!


@ Uncle B, No need for that!!!

We'll just put saddles on those fat republicans.


How about we just recycle all politicians fat or not, say a kind of soylent green, "up againts the wall" will be replaced with "down the biodiesel grinder"? On another note I don't think either party can get in the way of this, as energy prices increase and demand for something to be done about it increase as well, politicians will be willing to support anything, even something with the unbelievably amazing potential of algae fuel.


A saddled Republican is the business of an "addled" mind. Unless you don't mind taking a week to go a couple miles. Fat politicians are good for one thing - the prefix NO.

The algal solution is not as easy as some have suggested. If you read the DOE Aquatic Species study it becomes apparent that there are still major issues on how to grow and harvest high lipid algae without contamination. But it it definitely a solution in need of more attention.


I would also like to see GTL making jet fuel from natural gas. That could lead to making it out of biomass as well. The airline industry gets hurt in a slow down and gets hurt by high fuel prices. This might add some stability and predictability to their businesses.

Just watching

I would like to know if any of these bio fuel outfits are acually making a profit without subsidising them.
If they are we need to build all the salt water algi farms we can find room for. The electric auto is still years away befor they will be ready for long range use.

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