The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a further $24 million in funding for commercial algal biofuel research as part of its National Algal Biofuels Roadmap [pdf].
Another all too familiar announcement of funding going into alternative fuel research? To an extent, yes. The issues of commercializing algal biofuels is proving to be difficult, at least for the DOE. But aren't the answers for algae already out there?
Hasn't the algal biofuel research already been done? Ideas seem to be abound, but the real rub is creating a commercially viable option for algal biofuel that is sustainable, efficient, and controllable.
The new funding will be divided amongst three consortia, consisting of partners from academia, national laboratories, and private industries based across the country.
Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium (Mesa, AZ) - Led by Arizona State University, this consortium will focus on testing the acceptability of algal biofuels as replacements for petroleum-based fuels. (DOE share: up to $6 million)
Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization (San Diego, CA) - Led by the University of California, San Diego, this consortium will concentrate on developing algae as a robust biofuels feedstock. (DOE funding: up to $9 million)
Cellana, LLC Consortium (Kailua-Kona, HI) - Led by Cellana, LLC, this consortium will examine large-scale production of fuels and feed from microalgae grown in seawater. (DOE funding: up to $9 million)
What This Means:
More research, really -- another three years of funding funneled through consortia that may (or may not) yield similar results to those already found.
With all the money being put forward, one can only assume that at some point we'll hear an announcement that the answer has been found...maybe.
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