UT Opens Huge Demo Lab for Growing Algae Into Biofuel

The University of Texas has officially opened one of the largest of-its-kind algae growth demonstration facilities for biofuels in the country, UT announced this week.

Fuel produced from algae oil has been considered an increasingly promising alternative in the past few years. And because of its energy expertise and unsurpassed algae collection, UT has been at the forefront of the technology from the start.

The University has demonstrated a willingness to partner with private companies in furthering this research, too. The new demo facility is being launched in partnership with AlgEternal Technologies and Georg Fischer Piping Systems.

“The vast commercial potential of algae as a renewable resource has barely been tapped,” Jerry Brand, director of the UTEX Culture Collection of Algae, said in a statement.

“At The University of Texas at Austin, we have a unique combination of intellectual experience and capability, research and development facilities, and a huge library of living algae that together can exploit this potential,” Brand added. “The new algae culturing and harvesting facility designed and built by AlgEternal is an excellent synergist to our existing capability that will accelerate commercialization.”

Several University entities are in on the research. AlgEternal’s technologies will produce algae that will then be used by researchers at UT’s Center for Electromechanics to demonstrate their own technology for extracting oil from algae. The UTEX Culture Collection of Algae will serve as a source for strains of algae.

The facility could produce some 113,500 gallons of algae oil per acre annually, according to the University.

Photo: Jerry Brand in the UTEX Culture Collection of Algae he directs. Photo by Santiago Forero.



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