ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. As Americans demand new and cleaner ways to meet the country's energy needs, researchers are turning to algae as a promising new fuel source. The approach has the potential to significantly reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil while contributing to rural economic development and lowering greenhouse emissions.
Experts project that algae-based biofuels could displace large volumes of diesel and jet transportation fuels. One of the field's leading experts, Sandia researcher Ron Pate, will present an overview of the current state of research and development and associated opportunities and challenges for algal biofuels during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego on Feb. 19.
Pate, who is a principal member of technical staff at Sandia, has been in Washington, D.C., since November 2009, serving as a technical consultant to the emerging algae biofuels program within the Biomass Office of the Department of Energy's Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EERE).
The DOE program evolved out of an initiative started in 2008 to develop a National Algae Biofuels Technology Roadmap; researchers from Sandia, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other national laboratories, universities and industry are teaming up with DOE to overcome some of the field's biggest challenges.
"We've been heavily involved in supporting the Office of Biomass Program for the past year and a half on the Algae Biofuels Roadmap and a couple of specific projects that are algae biofuel-related," Pate said.
Among those projects are two international collaborations: one with industrial partners in Israel and the U.S., and another with the National Research Council Canada.
"Using algae as a feedstock source for biofuels has a lot of potential benefits, but there are also some tremendous challenges. We've been working very hard to determine what the
|Contact: Stephanie Hobby|
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories