In what is being characterized by the company as a major breakthrough in algae technology to be turned into biodiesel, California-based Aurora Biofuels has optimized algae strains that more than double their intake of carbon dioxide… important for producing the oil that is eventually turned into biodiesel.
This article from Biodiesel Magazine says while it’s hard to figure how much more economical and closer to industrial-sized commercial biodiesel production these algae will be, company officials believe it will bring algae-biodiesel production costs down to about $1.75 a gallon:
Optimized algae have been producing oil in Aurora Biofuels’ outdoor pilot ponds for several months, providing strong evidence that these strains will remain robust at the industrial scale and remove more carbon emissions than previously thought possible.
“This is a major breakthrough showing that one can take algae with improved productivity from the research lab to the field. What Aurora scientists have achieved is an impressive milestone on the path to large-scale commercial algae production,” said Kris Niyogi, a member of the company’s scientific advisory board and professor of algal biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
The company is currently investigating three different locations for its demonstration stage algae cultivation sites, but could not disclose specifics in a conversation today with Biodiesel Magazine. “We can say that we expect to be cultivating and harvesting algae oil at a 50-acre site by the second quarter of 2010,” the Aurora spokesman said.
Aurora has been growing the algae in Florida and shipping it to its headquarters in California to be turned into biodiesel that meets ASTM standards. But Aurora is not looking at producing biodiesel and selling the green fuel itself… just the algae’s oil.