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Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies (CRAFT) Tries Algae

September 3rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Biodiesel, Algae-Energy-Companies

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Eastern officially announced its partnership with General Atomics, an energy-related company based in San Diego, in December 2008. The partnership was formed in order to undertake a new project known as the Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies, or CRAFT. CRAFT is developing processes of converting biomass into a biodiesel fuel that could be used to run most engines. 

Bruce Pratt, the chair of Eastern’s Department of Agriculture, said that biomass, or plant-derived material, will be broken down to release sugars (namely glucose). These sugars will be fed to a special type of heterotrophic algae that does not require sunlight to grow. The algae will then be harvested and the oil used to create diesel fuel will be extracted.

Pratt said that CRAFT is different from other alternative fuel projects because it will not cause as much controversy.CRAFT has been researching biofuel possibilities in nearby Winchester in Clark County, according to Selby and Pratt.

The research the CRAFT team has gathered so far is to determine whether a useful biodiesel can be extracted from the algae, but if a plant is built, then the experiment will be whether the plant could mass-produce the biodiesel fuel.

General Atomics would provide the funds for the creation of the plant, Selby said. He also said that if the pilot plant is successful, then other pilot plants across the U.S. might be built in the future.

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