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US Energy Department to invest in algae biofuel projects

World Cement,

The US Energy Department has announced the provision of up to US$25 million in funding to help lower the cost of algal biofuels to under US$5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019. The funding is in line with President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy and aims to support the development of a bioeconomy that can generate jobs, benefit the environment, encourage innovation and enable the US to achieve national energy security.

Algae biomass can be converted into advanced biofuels while the algae can also produce a number of byproducts, e.g. industrial chemical, bio-based polymers and proteins. The Energy Department has set a target of US$3/gge for advanced algal biofuels by 2030 but notes that there are a number of barriers that could hamper this goal, such as cultivation, harvesting and conversion to fuels. The Department is therefore investing in applied research and development technologies that could lead to higher biomass yields and overall values for the algae.

The funding will be awarded to projects in two areas. Firstly, around US$5 – 10 million will be available to projects that focus on the development of algae cultures that also produce bioproducts that will raise the overall value of the biomass. Between one and three projects are expected to be selected in this category. Some three to seven projects are likely to be selected for the second topic area (US$0.5 – 1 million). These must focus on the development of crop protection or CO2 utilisation technologies, which increase biomass productivity and thereby provide higher algae yields.

Further information about the funding available from the US Energy Department can be found here.

Algae utilisation is among the methods for carbon capture being explored within the cement industry. Pond Biofuels and St Marys Cement, for example, are running an algae project at the Bowmanville plant in Canada. Those attending the 2015 IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference in Toronto will have the opportunity to see the plant and algae project first hand.

Adapted from press release by

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