One of the Largest Facilities For Growing Algae for Biofuels Opens at The University of Texas at Austin

Sept. 13, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with AlgEternal Technologies and Georg Fischer Piping Systems, has officially opened one of the largest of-its-kind algae growth demonstration facilities for biofuels in the country.

Algae production has gained significant attention as a feedstock for biofuels and as an alternative to other petroleum-based products because of its potential for high yields, high productivity and scalability.

"The vast commercial potential of algae as a renewable resource has barely been tapped," said Jerry Brand, the Jack S. Josey Professor in Energy Studies and director of the UTEX Culture Collection of Algae in the College of Natural Sciences. "At The University of Texas at Austin, we have a unique combination of intellectual experience and capability, research and development facilities, and a huge library of living algae that together can exploit this potential. The new algae culturing and harvesting facility designed and built by AlgEternal is an excellent synergist to our existing capability that will accelerate commercialization."

It will demonstrate the commercial potential of two of AlgEternal's unique technologies. They will produce algae that will be used by researchers at the university's Center for Electromechanics (CEM) to demonstrate their proprietary technology for extracting oil from algae. The UTEX Culture Collection of Algae will serve as a source for strains of algae.

"The future commercialization of advanced algae biofuels is dependent upon reducing the cost of growth another ten-fold," said Robert Hebner, director of the CEM and research professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering. "Science and commercial progress are symbiotic. We've organized a highly competent team addressing key science and engineering challenges and it is essential that we collaborate with companies like AlgEternal in order to understand biofuel production from the process level to accelerate research in this emerging industry."

"Our company began growing algae at a pilot scale to ensure laboratory research would translate to real world scenarios," said Rob Eissler, CEO of AlgEternal Technologies. "We're using an organic source of energy to reduce overall costs associated with mass production and are utilizing proven farming techniques to manage cultures rather than try to control them."

The facility is located at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus in North Austin.

For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675; Cari Vincent, AlgEternal Technologies, 215-802-0709.

6 Comments to "One of the Largest Facilities For Growing Algae for Biofuels Opens at The University of Texas at Austin"

1.  Durwood M. Dugger said on Sept. 13, 2011

I take it UT didn't get the memo on peak petro, peak phosphate and the negative mass balance analyzes (U of Kansas, MIT, and Rand Corp.) regarding large scale algae based energy systems dependence on NPK fertilizer that competes with 95% of global human food production?

2.  b cole said on Sept. 13, 2011

To learn about the fast-track commercialization of the algae production industry you may want to check out the National Algae Association, the trade association.

3.  Howard R. Lowe said on Sept. 15, 2011

First off, I was pleased to learn about the research effort directed toward algae as a souce for biofeul. I agree that it is by far the most attractive source for acquiring biofeul (bio-diesel). I still believe the costs of the whole process must be decreased dramatically before it can become a player in the energy mix. The biggest cost drawbacks are associated with - harvesting, dewatering, drying, lipid extraction and finally the conversion to product. Every single one of the processes is extremely expensive. However, continuopus research and development must continue. While I am convinced it is still out in the future, it may still be a big player in "Green Energy Hope". I am a retired geologist/petroleum engineer with strong ties to UT, and I have great confindence in the University's reserch capabilites.

4.  fatalage said on Sept. 16, 2011

Arizona State University did a press release that
'All algae technology hurdles have been met. It's all engineering and scale-up going forward'. How can you say more research and development is needed?
The DOE's latest problems with Solyndra will open up a can of worms on algae grants and loan guarantees.
The US taxpayer has spent over $2.5 billion dollars over the last 50 years on algae research. To date, nothing has been commercialized by any algae researcher at any university.

The REAL question is: Does the DOE BIOMASS PROGRAM really want the US off of foreign oil or do they want to continue funding more grants for algae research to keep algae researchers employed at universities for another 50 years?

In business, you are not given 50 years to research anything. Let alone 5 years. If you have to research something for 50 years, it willl never be a business.

The problem is in the Congressional Mandate that says the DOE and other government agencies can only use taxpayer monies on algae research, NOT algae production in the US. So far, all algae research for the last 50 years (going back to the first Carnegie Mellon Study) has not helped the US off the US in getting off of foreign oi! Hopefully, this fraud and abuse will come to an end.

5.  Kishan Solanki said on Sept. 28, 2011

It is very interesting to note the progress on research for producing biofuel from algae.

It is indeed a great source of future replacement for petroleum oil.

Can we now look on ways to reduce the production cost of bio-fuel and make it comparable to that of petroleum products. Let us work on the breakeven point (meaning that at what price of petroleum oil per barrel algae based biofuel eqaulise the cost) and then look at various scenarios that may emerge based on level of depletion of peroleum resources..

I can volunteer provide cost analysis isf actual cost data for the research activities are shared .

Look forward for positive response.

Kishan Solanki
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mob +971 50 7396163

6.  Frank Evans said on May 30, 2012

This whole exercise proves to me that U. Texas is not interested in education, truth, or real science. It is interested only in whatever is fashionable at the moment to bring in money.

Algae for any commercial purpose is a dead loss. There is absolutely nothing it is good for. Yet we see huge amounts of money spent on such absurdities. If this is a Ph.D. thesis at U. T., who in their right mind would hire such a graduate except, of course, a university that is engaged in absurd studies to collect more money.

Any young person truly interested in producing value and increasing their knowledge base is probably best advised to avoid U.T.