Navigation Links
Montana State University research on algal biofuels keys larger study
Date:1/2/2014

BOZEMAN There is a lab in the engineering complex at Montana State University where grow lights stay on night and day, even during the winter holiday season, nurturing various bubbling containers of bright green algae. The room is at the heart of a broad research effort to shed light on a possible renewable energy source of the future.

Robin Gerlach is the MSU professor coordinating research into the production of oil-producing algae, as well the feasibility of commercial-scale biofuel production based on microbes discovered in Yellowstone National Park. Part of a multi-institutional project funded by a grant through the Sustainable Energy Pathways program at the National Science Foundation, it is one of many algal biofuel research projects at MSU in the labs of MSU professors Keith Cooksey, Matthew Fields, Brent Peyton and Gerlach.

The project, which also includes the University of North Carolina and the University of Toledo, is part of a federal effort to tackle some of the fundamental problems in developing enough biofuels fuels to provide up to 50 percent of the nation's transportation fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy funding the project.

"The project takes the groundbreaking work MSU scientists have done on algal biofuels and begins to integrate some of the bigger questions about what this promising technology will look like if it is going to become a major source of sustainable energy," Gerlach said.

One promising line of research involves alkalinity-loving microbes from Yellowstone's hot springs, as well as from Washington's Soap Lake soap is one common household product that is highly alkaline.

Key to the success of algal biofuels is getting the algae to produce lots of oil, or lipid, that can be converted into biodiesel and other fuels. To produce lots of lipid, algae have to consume a lot of carbon in this case, bicarbonate, the same stuff found in baking soda.

Typically, people think algae consume carbon dioxide but under alkaline conditions, most of the inorganic carbon in the water is in the form of bicarbonate, Gerlach said.

"But in these highly alkaline environments, that carbon becomes soluble in water and it can be used," said Gerlach, whose research team includes post-doctoral students, graduate students and undergraduates.

Algal biofuels are receiving so much attention because they have potential where other biofuels face limits, Gerlach added. Crop biofuel can compete with food production for land and fertilizer. Algal biofuels don't face that problem. The oils produced by these alkalinity-loving microbes could also be turned into other products, such as nutritional supplements.

Additionally, the fact that these microbes thrive in a highly alkaline environment lessens the contamination that can complicate efforts to extract commercially viable oils.

The work at the University of North Carolina is taking a holistic look at the future of algal biofuels. That portion of the project is being conducted by Gregory Characklis, who grew up in Bozeman and is the son of the late Bill Characklis, the MSU professor who founded the Center for Biofilm Engineering.

Characklis, a professor in UNC's Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, is compiling data to build computer models that will test the economic feasibility of producing algal biofuels on a commercial scale, while also assessing some of the environmental impacts of the production process.

While Characklis and Gerlach acknowledge that there will be a trade offs, such as higher production costs, there are advantages algal biofuels have over other energy products they are renewable and can be produced without the harsh chemicals used in making petroleum products.

"It's not to say that there aren't challenges associated with algal biofuels. But when we look closely at a system we'd need to scale up to the level of providing 50 percent of the nation's transportation fuels, there seem to be fewer fatal flaws than those associated with many other biofuels," Characklis said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Sepp Jannotta
seppjannotta@montana.edu
406-994-7371
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Montana State team overcomes challenges, proves that microbes swim to hydrogen gas
2. Montana State University researchers highlight bears use of Banff highway crossings
3. Wayne State cholesterol study shows algal extracts may counter effects of high fat diets
4. State-of-the-Art Tissue Engineering and Organ Regeneration Technologies Yield Healthcare Market Disruption
5. Wayne State discovers potential treatment for skin and corneal wound healing in diabetics
6. World Stem Cell Report 2013 highlights expert opinion and state-of-the-art science
7. Genetic mutation may play key role in risk of lethal prostate cancer in overweight patients
8. An abnormal resting-state functional brain network indicates progression towards AD
9. Men with prostate cancer who ate a low-fat fish oil diet showed changes in their cancer tissue
10. Wayne State researchers discover specific inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis treatment
11. New research shows tea may help promote weight loss, improve heart health and slow progression of prostate cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Montana State University research on algal biofuels keys larger study
(Date:3/21/2016)... Unique technology combines v ... security   Xura, Inc. ... digital communications services, today announced it is working alongside ... customers, particularly those in the Financial Services Sector, the ... within a mobile app, alongside, and in combination with, ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... March 15, 2016 --> ... by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock Systems Market - ... - 2023," the global digital door lock systems market in ... 2014 and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of ... small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the world and high ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... 2016 http://www.apimages.com ) - ... - Renvoi : image disponible via AP Images ... --> DERMALOG, le leader de ... lecteurs d,empreintes digitales pour l,enregistrement des réfugiés en ... pour produire des cartes d,identité aux réfugiés. DERMALOG ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells ... of an Asia-Pacific Symposium as other research and development initiatives for potential stem cell ... and top Global Stem Cells Group executives began meeting to establish a working agenda ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... 2016 ReportsnReports.com adds 2016 ... focus on US, EU, China ... the healthcare business intelligence collection of its growing ... report on the Flow Cytometry market spread across ... 282 tables and figures is now available at ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... ... 26, 2016 , ... BaseHealth , the comprehensive predictive ... as Chief Business Officer. Arianpour, a genomics pioneer and visionary commercial leader with ... recently Chief Commercial Officer of Pathway Genomics. He has held senior executive roles ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Heidelberg Instruments, a leader in design, development ... Volume Pattern Generator (VPG) line of lithography systems. The breakthrough VPG+ system is ... a solution for mid volume direct write lithography applications. It utilizes the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: