Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some algae biofuel news

Sustainable Green Technologies (SGT) a start-up company in Escondido, California announced today that it has discovered a highly effective and low cost way to massively increase algal oil production. Metabolic engineering research conducted at SGT over the past two years paid off when SGT scientists uncovered the elusive and long sought after “lipid trigger” in green algae. Usually algae store excess harvested solar energy in the form of starch and in smaller amounts as lipid droplets within their cells. But under certain ideal conditions, many microalgae appear to flip a switch to turn on massive production and storage of oils instead of starch. The true nature of this metabolic switch as well as the conditions which activate (or trigger) the switch remained elusive. Now SGT is able to activate the switch at will and to create “obese algae.” This breakthrough technology supports the U.S. Advanced Energy Initiative - which seeks to diversify the U.S. energy portfolio and to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

“We uncovered the algae oil lipid trigger almost by accident,” notes Dr. Elmar Schmid, SGT’s CSO. "We were looking for new and rational uses of a waste stream from our biohydrogen technology. We found the waste from our biohydrogen system sparked tremendous growth of our green algae, and more importantly, massively increased lipid production and storage within our algae. In other words, our algae became obese within one week! We now have a highly efficient, cost-effective way of producing large amounts of algae oils for biodiesel fuel production. On top of that, we can produce clean biohydrogen from the resulting biodiesel refinery waste!” exclaims Dr. Schmid. …

Calif. startup announces algae breakthrough

A Cambridge, Massachusetts-based start-up has emerged from stealth operations with a process that it says can produce transportation fuel from sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2) without the need for growing biomass like corn, switchgrass or algae. Joule Biotechnologies, Inc. says it has achieved a bioengineering breakthrough that can harnesses sunlight to directly convert CO2 into liquid energy. Joule said its uses highly-engineered photosynthetic organisms in a process that requires no agriculture land or fresh water to produce 20,000 gallons of renewable ethanol or hydrocarbons per acre annually. The company revealed few details claiming the need to protect trade secrets at this point in time, but promised that its first product will be available in 2010. Joule's chief executive Bill Sims told the Wall Street Journal: "We're not a biofuel company, because biofuels are biomass-derived; our technology leverages a highly synthetic organism to create transportation fuels and chemicals. We don't have an intermediary that has to be grown or transported, it's a direct-to-product process."

Sustainable Business News

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