Genetically Altering Algae Produces Faster Biofuel Output
A team of researchers that has been working on getting fuel-grade oil out of algae may be within four years of a near-commercial-scale production level. The team, with a combined expertise from agriculture to engineering, has received a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to help hasten the process, according to Tim Devarenne, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research biochemist and collaborator on the project.
The challenge is to help the oil-laden alga, Botryococcus braunii, live up to its potential, Devarenne says. Known by scientists for more than 100 years, B. braunii is the shirker of the algae world, seemingly floating aimlessly in bubbling tanks of water in no hurry to grow up and be pressed into oil. Other algae go through life as self-starters on a fast-track to success but don’t produce oil like B. braunii. The researchers want the useful traits from each to commingle.
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