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Rose Ann Cattolico displays some of the varieties of algae she studies in her University of Washington laboratory. Different types of algae can produce different types of biofuels.
AXI was created as an alliance between the University of Washington and Allied Minds, a seed investment company that works with universities to commercialize early-stage technology. In particular, it was the work of Rose Ann Cattolico at the university, who has been studying the physiology of algae for more than 30 years, that interested Allied Minds.
Different types of algae, such as single-celled organisms or large kelps (seaweeds), will produce different lipids (or oils) depending on the conditions in which they are grown. This is because the plants produce varying numbers of carbon-carbon links under different growth conditions. Biodiesel, for example, requires lipids that have 14 carbon-carbon links and AXI says it will choose the best algae for each type of fuel application.
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