GROWING GREEN: BODEGA ALGAE AND BIGELOW LABORATORY COLLABORATE TO DEVELOP ALGAL BIOFUEL TECHNOLOGY IN NEW ENGLAND
January 25, 2010
Contact: Samuel Hill, President, Bodega Algae LLC, email@example.com; (617) 899-1754 or Tatiana Brailovskaya, Director of Communications, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, firstname.lastname@example.org; (207) 633-9633
BOSTON, MA and WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME – Massachusetts-based renewable energy company Bodega Algae and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, have received a six-month, $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and test a prototype for growing high concentrations of algae for use as biofuel. The grant is titled Light Delivery Enhancement of Photobioreactors and will be used to develop advanced photobioreactors that can be used in the nation’s quest for a carbon-neutral fuel source and energy independence.
A photobioreactor cultivates algae efficiently by delivering optimal supplies of nutrients and light for growth.
“Bodega is a developer of algae photobioreactors that grow high-energy algal biomass for use in the production of biofuel,” said Sam Hill, Bodega Algae’s president. “The first phase of our SBIR project addresses the technical challenges involved in cultivating large amounts of algae needed for producing and using algal biofuel at an industrial scale.”
The abundant populations of microscopic algae in the oceans of the world are the first link in the food chain for all marine life. Many species of algae contain large amounts of lipids, or natural oils, and if companies can create the technology to grow algae on a large scale, these tiny, single-celled plants could hold the key to a significant domestic source of renewable energy. In addition to their potential as an energy source, algae also offer a multitude of other possible commercial applications, ranging from aquaculture and nutraceuticals to bioremediation of chemicals and greenhouse gas reduction.
Dr. Willie Wilson, a Senior Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory, is the Interim Director of the Laboratory’s Provasoli-Guillard Center for the Culture of Marine Phytoplankton, the nation’s official collection of marine algae, and the largest micro algae repository on the east coast. Wilson will test methods of light delivery developed at Bodega Algae for their effect on cell growth rates for a range of algal strains
“A key goal of the project is to identify the best methods and design for capturing and sending light to algae in larger volumes under varying conditions in order to grow algae,” said Wilson. “This grant gives us a chance to test methods to grow high volumes of algae quickly and efficiently. This would open one of the major bottlenecks in the production of biofuel.”
The central focus of Bodega Algae, LLC is the development of next-generation commercial algae photobioreactors for high-volume commercial production of algae biomass. Bodega was recently identified by Earth2Tech (http://earth2tech.com), a website tracking innovations in green technology, as one of the top 15 biofuel companies in the country to watch.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a center for global ocean research. An independent, nonprofit research institution, the Laboratory is supported by federal research grants and private funds. The Laboratory’s research ranges from microbial oceanography -- examining biological productivity in the world’s oceans at the molecular level -- to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive interactions between ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions. ###
Photos: Botryococcus (top) is a single-celled green marine algae that produces large amounts of oil. Individual Botryococcus cells form irregularly-shaped aggregates connected by thin filaments and surrounded by oil droplets. Image courtesy of the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton (CCMP) https://ccmp.bigelow.org/, supported through Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. (Bottom) Algae biomass in fresh water being filtered through Bodega Algae’s 1,000-liter photobioreactor with low-cost internal light delivery technology. Photo courtesy of Bodega Algae, LLC.