Category Archives: A Look Back at the U. S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program: Biodiesel from Algae

Mutagenesis and Selection

Work by SERI/NREL subcontractors in the early 1980s supported the idea that there is significant genetic variation within algal populations (i. e., Gallagher, Section ILB. Lc.). Therefore, one possible method for producing high lipid algal strains would be selection of natural genetic variants with desired traits, such as high lipid levels or increased tolerance to high salinity or temperature. The […]

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Completion of the California HRP Project, 1985-1986

Numerous microalgal strains were obtained from the SERI Culture Collection and tested in small-scale, 1.4-m2, ponds (Weissman and Goebel 1986; 1987). All strains could be grown quite successfully in these small units, although some, such as Amphora sp., did not survive more than 2 or 3 weeks before they were displaced by other algae. Cyclotella displaced Amphora under all conditions […]

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The Japanese R&D Program for Microalgae CO2 Utilization

In Japan, the Research for Innovative Technology of the Earth program (RITE) has carried out an extensive progam for microalgal CO2 utilization. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) funds this program, through the New Energy Development Organization (NEDO). The program was established in 1990 as a 10-year effort, carried out by approximately two dozen private companies, with some […]

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Microalgal Strain Improvement — Conclusions and Recommendations

Previous to the research performed by researchers in the ASP at NREL, very little work had been done in the area of microalgal strain improvement, particularly with a goal of developing a commercial organism. Although much remains to be done, significant progress was made in the understanding of environmental and genetic factors that affect lipid accumulation in microalgae, and in […]

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The Battelle Columbus 1982 Resource Assessment Report

This report (Vignon et al. 1982), comissioned by the ASP, was the first comprehensive discussion of the resource requirements for microalgae production. It covered the criteria that should and could be used to identify available water, land and other resources, to estimate their relative importance, and to evaluate various legal, institutional, and other resource constraints. These issues were discussed at […]

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. Second Year of the Hawaii ARPS Project, 1981-1982

The second year of this project emphasized the use of “flashing light to enhance algal mass culture production” (Laws, 1982; see also Laws et al. 1983). The basic idea was that a “foil array” in the pond culture would generate a vortex that would create organized mixing in the ponds, expected to result in exposure of the cells to regular […]

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Design and Analysis of Microalgae Open Pond Systems

This report (Weissman and Goebel 1987) originated from a competition held by the ASP for the development of a pilot plant (“test facility”) for microalgae production. As mentioned in Section III. A.4., two companies were selected to develop competing processes: Aquasearch, Inc., of San Diego, California, and Microbial Products, Inc., which had carried out the ASP pond project in California. […]

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Development of a Genetic Transformation System for Microalgae

Introduction: During the past 2 decades, manipulation of organisms via genetic engineering has become routine in a number of animal, bacterial, fungal, and plant systems. However, before the research was done at NREL, very little work in this area had been done with microalgae. In fact, the only species for which there was a reproducible transformation system was the single-celled, […]

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The Israeli Microalgae Biodiesel Production Project

In the mid-1980s an algal mass culture project for biodiesel production was supported by the ASP in Israel (Arad 1984, 1985, 1986), as a cooperative project among the following groups: 1. Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute, with Dr. Ben-Amotz, who investigated lipid production at the laboratory and micropond scale;

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Resource Projections and Microalgae Biodiesel R&D

There are several arguments for and against a U. S. microalgae biodiesel R&D program. One of the more important, and perhaps contentious, issues, is the potential impact of such technologies on U. S. energy supplies, specifically liquid transportation fuels. The review in Section III. C. of the NREL resource analyses for microalgae biodiesel concluded that there is a potential for […]

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