Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Upcoming report on algal biofuels

In a Feb. 19 post, Science Daily discussed a talk by Ron Pate, which gave an overview of the current state of research and development and associated opportunities and challenges for algal biofuels during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego on Feb. 19, 2010.

Within the Science Daily post:

Pate was part of the DOE-sponsored team that drafted a report based on comments received both at the workshop [DOE's Office of Biomass Program in December 2008 ] and from public, and the report, which will outline the nation's strategy in algal biofuel research, is expected to be published in the next few months and will help drive the nation's algal biofuels efforts.

Separately, note the National Algae Association West Coast meeting in Las Vegas takes place 25-26 Feb. 2010.

**The Guardian had run a story on 13 Feb 2010 which had a sub-headline US scientists believe they will soon be able to use algae to produce biofuel for the same cost as fossil fuels and which included text:

The work is part of a broader Pentagon effort to reduce the military's thirst for oil, which runs at between 60 and 75 million barrels of oil a year. Much of that is used to keep the US Air Force in flight. Commercial airlines – such as Continental and Virgin Atlantic – have also been looking at the viability of an algae-based jet fuel, as has the Chinese government.

"Darpa has achieved the base goal to date," she said. "Oil from algae is projected at $2 per gallon, headed towards $1 per gallon."

McQuiston [ Barbara McQuiston, special assistant for energy at DARPA ] said a larger-scale refining operation, producing 50 million gallons a year, would come on line in 2011 and she was hopeful the costs would drop still further – ensuring that the algae-based fuel would be competitive with fossil fuels. She said the projects, run by private firms SAIC and General Atomics, expected to yield 1,000 gallons of oil per acre from the algal farm.

McQuiston's projections took several industry insiders by surprise. "It's a little farther out in time," said Mary Rosenthal, director of the Algal Biomass Association. "I am not saying it is going to happen in the next three months, but it could happen in the next two years."

However, a correction was printed on 21 Feb. 2010:

This item contained incorrect information supplied by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa). We repeated its assertion that jet fuel production from refined algae would begin next year. Darpa now says that it should have told us that testing will begin next year with production not planned until 2013.


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