Colorado State University and Solix Biofuels Inc. will help advance the nation’s algae-to-oil industry as part of a $44 million consortium coordinated through the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the collaboration – called the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts – as part of an $80 million investment in advanced biofuels research.
Colorado State and Solix are the only Colorado-based entities in the collaboration, which is also the only consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to focus solely on algae. Chu also announced Wednesday a separate consortium led by the Golden, Colo.-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory involving the Colorado School of Mines.
Solix is an alternative energy technology company developing the technology production platform for the large-scale commercialization of microalgae-based fuels and co-products. The privately held company is a spinoff from Colorado State University through the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory.
Working on the grant from Colorado State are Anthony Marchese and Ken Reardon from the College of Engineering and Shawn Archibeque from the College of Agricultural Sciences. The three will investigate such issues as reuse of biproducts from the algae-to-oil process and the properties of algae-produced fuels and whether they can easily replace gasoline and petroleum diesel, said Marchese, who is leading the CSU portion of the grant.
“Colorado’s New Energy Economy is creating jobs and increasing our energy security by developing domestic fuels and the technologies for cleaner, better transportation,” said Gov. Bill Ritter. “Congratulations to Solix Biofuels and Colorado State University for being selected to participate in moving algae-to-oil technologies from lab to market.”
“Colorado State University sits at the cutting edge of the research into biofuels and particularly the investigation of algae into biodiesel,” said Bill Farland, vice president for Research at Colorado State and former top scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency. “More than 100 professors at the university participate in the exploration of clean and renewable energy solutions on our campus with the intention of tackling such huge global problems such as sustainable sources of fuels.”
“Advanced biofuels are crucial to building a clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “By harnessing the power of science and technology, we can bring new biofuels to the market and develop a cleaner and more sustainable transportation sector. This investment will help spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry, while creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”
The National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts will develop a systems approach for production of algae into biofuels such as renewable gasoline and bioproducts including animal feed. The group intends to host multiple test sites that would help to significantly increase production.
Other partners in the alliance are: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Arizona, Brooklyn College, New Mexico State University, Texas AgriLife Research -Texas A&M University System, University of California Los Angeles, University of California San Diego, University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, Washington State University, AXI, Catilin, Diversified Energy, Eldorado Biofuels, Genifuel, HR BioPetroleum, Inventure, Kai BioEnergy, Palmer Labs, Targeted Growth, Terrabon and UOP.
“We are playing a major role on the production side,” said Doug Henston, chief executive officer of Solix. “How do you produce the oil? CSU and Solix are playing major roles in the team that’s going to develop this industry.”
The consortium announced Wednesday is the second partnership Solix has with Los Alamos. In September, the company signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement that grants Solix access to use and expand upon LANL’s technology, specifically the patented acoustic technology that is beneficial to Solix’s algal oil extraction process.
Henston added that Solix is close to releasing its next generation production system.