Nevada researchers and energy producers are uniquely enabled to leverage the geothermal, high solar radiation, ample land area, and salt basins to produce algae in a scalable and economically viable manner. Use of the uncovered ponds demonstrates that algae can be grown in commercial quantities year-round, even in a temperate climate. This will preclude the need for capital-intensive bioreactors or covered ponds.
The ponds were constructed with the help of industry partners Enegis, LLC and Bebout and Associates. Cushman also received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation SunGrant Initiative.
"We believe that the methodologies and technologies being developed will result in high-quality biofuel that can compete in price per gallon with both current domestic biofuel production and imported fuels," Dr. John W. Bebout, renewable energy expert from Savannah, Georgia and principal consultant and founder of Bebout and Associates, said.
There is a possibility for long-term financial benefits for the University from the development of the growing process and special algae strains.
"We have signed a sharing agreement with Enegis," Cushman said. "There are possible financial benefits, especially if we file product or process patents."
Jeffrey Eppink, president of Enegis, said, "this harvest represents the culmination of more than four years of research into developing hardy varieties of algae which produce large amounts of oil or starch as well as developing a practical process to grow, concentrate and harvest the algae."
Cushman, his partners and students plan to begin growing another crop of algae to be ready for harvest in the early Spring.
|Contact: Mike Wolterbeek|
University of Nevada, Reno