Bioscience firm Targeted Growth (TGI) says it has developed a method to increase the lipid content of algae by approximately 400%, thereby increasing oil yield per acre and decreasing the cost of algae production.
TGI molecular biologists and their collaborators have identified and tested every active gene in sequenced cyanobacteria genomes and made breakthroughs in both adding new genes and manipulating their functions to create a high oil-yielding algae strain. The company has filed multiple patent applications on these innovations.
There’s no way that algae are sustainable as a feedstock for fuel or energy unless you can dramatically increase the yield per acre and optimize the strain for use as an energy source. Any type of modification requires intricate understanding of and experience with molecular biology as well as significant testing. Our decade of working at the molecular level on other photosynthetic organisms has given us a significant advantage in working with cyanobacteria.—Tom Todaro, CEO of Targeted Growth
In addition to developing algae strains for use as a feedstock for conventional diesel, TGI is also testing algae’s ability to be converted to biojet fuel through a partnership with refining technology developer UOP LLC, a Honeywell company. UOP’s renewable jet fuel process technology has produced renewable fuels from various oil-based feedstocks, including algae, for use in three separate airplane test flights in the past year.
Targeted Growth’s expansion into algae is an extension of the company’s experience and success in agricultural bioscience. Its initial breakthrough came in the field of yield enhancement, when its scientists discovered a way to produce double-digit yield increases in certain row crops through regulating the cell division cycle. The company has since licensed this technology to a major seed company. In 2007, the company introduced a non-transgenic version of camelina sativa, an oilseed crop that grows in rotation with wheat. In January, 2009, a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 conducted a test flight powered in part by camelina oil processed into bio-jet fuel by UOP.