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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 costs of producing algal biofuels and bioproducts.

Technical targets for the FOA include both demonstrable improvements in cultivation performance as well as in toolkit availability. Therefore, technical targets at project conclusion (anticipated in 2020) include achievement of an annual average algal biomass productivity of at least 18 g/m2/day, extrapolated from the combination of relevant seasonal data from the project and literature values for seasonal regimes not targeted by a given project, while achieving a minimum of 80 GGE per ton of biomass potential.The funding for this initiative now totals more than $16 million.

The selected projects include the following:

  • Colorado School of Mines. The Colorado School of Mines, in partnership with Global Algae Innovations, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Colorado State University, will improve the productivity of robust wild algal strains using advanced directed evolution approaches in combination with high-performance, custom-built, solar simulation bioreactors.

  • University of California, San Diego. The University of California, San Diego, will develop genetic tools, high-throughput screening methods, and breeding strategies for green algae and cyanobacteria, targeting robust production strains. The team will work with three key industrial partners: Triton Health and Nutrition, Algenesis Materials, and Global Algae Innovations.

  • University of Toledo. The University of Toledo, in partnership with Montana State University and the University of North Carolina, will cultivate microalgae in high-salinity and high-alkalinity media to achieve productivities without needing to add concentrated carbon dioxide. The team will also deliver molecular toolkits, including metabolic modeling combined with targeted genome editing.

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will ecologically engineer algae to encourage growth of bacteria that efficiently remineralize dissolved organic matter to improve carbon dioxide uptake and simultaneously remove excess oxygen.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the US electric grid. The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BTO) contributes to EERE’s mission by working with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in algal biofuels technologies.



Seven or eight years ago I had expected that algae and cellulosic ethanol would have found a niche by now. Wonder if its worth continuing to support research?


Cellulose ethanol is being made in quantity by at less FOUR major companies in the mid west and has been for years.


I realize you are better informed about this technology but I checked a renewable fuel association report which said the volume of cellulosic ethanol amounted to 1% of total US production.To me that doesn't seem that significant. Maybe the low oil prices are having an impact on expansion but I wonder what the cost of production is at now and how much of that is supported by RIN's?


All I know is the cellulose plants are producing a LOT more than any algae plants.


Conventional capitalism consumerism comes with constrained world views that tend to be dismissive of free thinking around problems such as global warming risk benefit analysis that are shall we say inconvenient to the traditional and unimaginative short term world views of 'Harvard educated bean counters'.
The wider the scope or information net the better we can understand a subject.

There are provocative questions and insights specifically about the benefits from algae cultivation from the author that examine some current applications and successes in algae farming including water remediation in order to meet legal requirements as well as practical market realised incomes combined with larger perspectives on the possibilities and economics of algae applications in CCS.


100 million gallons of cellulose ethanol per year from only four plants is not bad. We may get more larger plants in the future. If E85 were more available we could put it to use.

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