U.S. Researchers Working to Commercialise Micro-Algae Biofuel

Thursday January 10, 2013

The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Marine Science says it is taking part in an international study on the possibility of turning micro-algae into fuel.

The Marine Science lab is studying algae grown from Mississippi coastal waters in an effort to commercialise the biofuel under the leadership of Donald Redalje.

Redalje says that all our existing oil was all once marine micro algae, so "we know this works, the trick is how do we produce enough of it, cheaply enough to be a marketable product?”

“Technology is developing as we speak,” said Tommy Pittman, a doctoral student who hopes to start a biofuel company based on the research, and believes Redalje has developed a strain of algae that will allow him to do just that.

“Here Dr. Redalje has the greatest strain in the world. I’ve been doing a lot of analysis on it. We know that this strain can go to the next level,” he said.

Researchers at the university are working together with others at Duke University and the University of Hawaii in the U.S., as well as other schools around the world.

A report by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) in June found that algae-based biofuels could reduce emissions by 25 percent, but the RAND Corporation has said biofuels are likely to be unable to compete with petroleum products because of their high cost.