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VIMS Collaborates with StatoilHydro on Algae Biofuel Project

The College of William and Mary and its Virginia Institute of Marine Science have formed a collaborative research initiative with a number of corporate partners—notably StatoilHydro—to investigate a new technology to produce biofuel from the algae growing naturally in rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

The enterprise, called ChAP—the Chesapeake Algae Project—is an integrated research approach to algae-based energy production and environmental remediation. StatoilHydro has seeded the enterprise with an initial $3 million investment. Other key partners are the Williamsburg energy advisory firm Blackrock Energy, the University of Maryland, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Arkansas, and HydroMentia, a Florida company that works with water-treatment technologies.

The William & Mary/VIMS group is investigating a process that not only is environmentally sustainable, but if used on a large scale, can help to reverse a number of environmental problems such as excess nutrient enrichment that produces “dead zones” in Chesapeake Bay and other waters.

Dennis Manos, William & Mary’s vice provost for research and graduate and professional studies, said the main environmental benefits of ChAP will derive from the central goal of the project: to find a way to produce algal biofuel on an industrial scale.

Lead researchers at VIMS involved in ChAP include J. Emmett Duffy, the Loretta and Lewis Glucksman Professor of Marine Science, and Professor of Marine Science Elizabeth Canuel. At the Williamsburg campus of William & Mary, Gene Tracy, Chancellor Professor of Physics and Applied Science; Bill Cooke, professor of physics; and Robert Hinkle, professor of chemistry, are lead members of the team, which includes other faculty members.

The project involves the entire process of producing biofuels, from algal growth to harvesting, extracting the oil and other products from the algae, processing the oil, and producing the final biofuel product.

The project was initiated by exploring, among others, technology originally developed by Walter Adey of the Smithsonian Institution as an efficient, large-scale aquarium filter. Adey has been meeting with a group of researchers at William & Mary and VIMS for the past year, working out details of how to adapt the concept to industrial-scale algae cultivation. A test site has been operating at VIMS, using brackish York River water, and a second test station is planned for Lake Matoaka on the William & Mary campus.



Good project. Wish them well.


Ditto that Harvey.


I also wish them well.
The Smithsonian has a reputation for excellence.

I understand that algae grown with CO2 from fossil fuels will reduce CO2 by 50% less losses and other CO2 inputs from processing.
I cannot imagine any benifit to the organism from unrefined and inconsistent analysis fluegass.

The possibility of extraction of algae in the 'natural environment is interesting from a cost/ area perspective. The solar energy available to purpose
built algae farms is by most accounts insufficient to supply useful volumes of biomass.

Conventional understanding determines the limits to plant growth is constrained in the instant by any of the plants requirements.

(I seem to have an unresolved problem with this )

Thinking outside the box, the simple answer is to expand the capture area. In this instance for harvesting the solar radiation.

Two environmental sources for CO2 already exist ie atmospheric and bottom layering in deeper waters.
CO2 concentrates in deep water ie dams used for hydro are thought by many to have similar CO2 discharge to conventional fossil. Rivers, lakes deep ocean waters etc can be used to supplement this nutrient without reference to fossil burning.

"The project was initiated by exploring, among others, technology originally developed by Walter Adey of the Smithsonian Institution as an efficient, large-scale aquarium filter."

This approach would have the challenge of at least not harming the normal biology that is the shared habitat with other organisms. If a biology 'screen' could be built that only separated the algae ? but if this could be assured, there would be an important net benifit from water remediation.

The extractive fossil fuel industries are desperate to re badge their product as "green"
anyway they can and humanity is well entangled if not addicted to this unsustainable energy economy approach.

Solar thermal is expected to be less expensive than new coal with CCS.

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