DOE Awards $1.3 Million to Cal Poly for Algae Biofuels Production Project

Date: 2013-01-24
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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $1.3 million grant to a Cal Poly research team, the Algae Technology Group (ATG), to develop efficient recycling of water and nutrients in algal biofuels production.




(Media-Newswire.com) - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $1.3 million grant to a Cal Poly research team, the Algae Technology Group (ATG), to develop efficient recycling of water and nutrients in algal biofuels production.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $1.3 million grant to a Cal Poly research team, the Algae Technology Group (ATG), to develop efficient recycling of water and nutrients in algal biofuels production.

ATG is led by professors Tryg Lundquist in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Corinne Lehr in Chemistry. It includes faculty and students from six departments, including Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Animal Science, Food Science and Electrical Engineering.

The DOE hopes to significantly improve the sustainability of algae-based biofuels and accelerate technological breakthroughs. The ATG project will turn waste resources, such as those from municipal and agricultural wastewaters, as well as nutrients recycled from algae biomass processing into sustainable algal biofuels. The project will be carried out in experimental raceway ponds at the City of San Luis Obispo Water Reclamation Facility, a pilot facility that has been invited to join the U.S. Department of Energy National Algae Biofuel Testbed program.

According to Lundquist, investment in research on algae biofuels has gone from near zero in 2005 to hundreds of millions per year. “Renewable energy and recycling of water are necessary for a sustainable society,” he said, “but current technologies are too expensive for many communities.” The DOE research project could result in technology that has the ability to save Californians hundreds of millions of dollars in water recycling costs each year.

Since 2006, ATG has enabled dozens of undergraduates to participate each quarter in wastewater reclamation and biofuels research; many Cal Poly master’s degree students in various departments have also focused their theses on algae technology.

“I am so pleased by Cal Poly students," said Lundquist. "They take to research projects so easily and seem to appreciate that every bit of data they generate helps this larger worldwide effort to domesticate algae into a biofuel crop.

“Ultimately, we would like our research to help commercialize the use of algae in the wastewater recycling process and production of biofuel,” he said.

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Contact: Amy Hewes
Cal Poly Engineering
805-756-6402
ahewes@calpoly.edu