Energy Headlines

September 25, 2017

Algae will become the basis for biofuels

Two technologies, developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, will allow cars to work on algae biofuels, according to These technologies are among the 18 new projects that received $ 22 million from the Advanced Research Projects Agency in the field of Energy, also known as ARPA-E. They belong to the ARPA-E MARINER programme which is dedicated to the industrial application of macroalgae research.

Macroalgae (the name for large multicellular algae used by biologists) are grown primarily for eating, but they can also be used to produce economically competitive biofuels. This technology does not require the use of synthetic fertilizers, and it will not compete with agriculture for land and fresh water.

According to the Ministry of Energy, the US can grow enough algae to meet approximately 10% of the country's annual demand for transport fuel. However, before the cars run on algae fuel, it is needed to increase its production with the help of new technologies significantly.

The choice of cultivation place is of particular importance. To make it easier the team headed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory staff will develop a set of advanced modelling tools, which will help to indicate the most effective time and place for algae cultivation in the open ocean.

Another team from the same laboratory will develop an autonomous cultivating system that will run on a 5-kilometer carbon fibre rope, which will allow growing more algae at a lower price. The tiered system will stay afloat due to buoys equipped with sensors in order to monitor the state of the ocean farm, speed, underwater lighting and much more. These sensors will automatically calculate the growth of two algae species. The composite waste products of the aviation industry will serve as the basis of the carbon fibre line. Researchers call this system a navigational autonomous offshore device or NOMAD.

Based on

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