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U.S. kicks-in $2m to Washington State Algae Alliance

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The Washington State Algae Alliance, which includes two bioscience firms and the Washington State University, is set to receive $2 million from funding provisions in the 2010 Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations bill.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) was instrumental in securing the funding for the Alliance, which will jointly develop a new algae-based system for the production of sustainable and renewable fuels, chemicals, and chemical intermediates.

Targeted Growth, Inc. (TGI), Inventure Chemical and WSU are the Alliance members.

“This funding will support cutting-edge research that will create jobs and continue to position Washington state as a leader in the clean energy economy,” said Sen. Murray. “It provides a shot in the arm for Washington state biofuels research, and will help our country move toward cleaner and more efficient energy use.”

Alliance objectives include the development of an efficient and integrated algae cultivation system for the production of fuel and other products; to build first-class capabilities; and to advance related science and technologies.

These objectives align with initiatives identified in the National Algae Fuel Roadmap developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, an Alliance statement said.

Each partner in the Alliance is responsible for developing a specific link in the value chain.

Targeted Growth will focus on the development and optimization of strains of cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae, to yield high levels of lipid and other products, while reducing needed inputs and ultimately driving down costs. WSU will develop advanced phototrophic (light) and heterotrophic (nutrient) bioreactors and harvesting technology to enable cost-efficient, year-round growth of the algal strains developed by TGI. After the algal biomass is harvested, it will be sent to Seattle-based Inventure for conversion into fuel and other valuable products such as renewable chemicals.

Algae is considered to have great promise as the raw material for a variety of sustainable and renewable products, from chemicals to fuels, says Margaret McCormick, general manager of Bio-based Materials at TGI. She says the funding will accelerate the commercialization and environmental benefits of algae.

WSU’s Algae Initiative, led by Professor Shulin Chen in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, has developed four patent-pending technologies for algae culture systems, harvesting, and nutrient recycling. WSU researchers associated with the Alliance are addressing technical challenges for the development of the algae biofuel industry, including a novel high-throughput screening process, photosynthetic efficiency, co-product development and extraction, algal biofuel production systems for the northern states, and process modeling for life cycle assessment and decision-making.

Inventure unites life science and synthetic biology expertise with material process technologies to boost the production of renewable, cost effective chemicals and fuels. The company processes a variety of algae species including salt water and fresh water species, converting it to a range of biofuels and chemicals.



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Written by William DiBenedetto

22 December, 2009 at 5:32 pm

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