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Algae fuel rate can be doubled: Research at MSU 11

An interesting blog I read.


Researchers in the Montana State University have found that the algae fuel content can be doubled by the addition of baking soda as a nutrient source.

The researchers claim that this method was tried 20 years back by a grad student of the college named Rob Gardner.

But MSU Research Professor Emeritus in Microbiology Keith Cooksey claims that he probably would have missed the timing. Researchers claim that the timing of the addition of baking soda is very crucial for its succes. Will this be the right source at the right stage at the right time? Baking soda might be an important nutrient source as it gives a supply of CO2 in a concentrated form.

Following the algae industry for about a year and a half now, I feel that these findings, though in no way irrelevant are not in any sense breakthroughs. I remember writing a similar article about a University in the U.S about a month ago which claimed adding a bicarbonate source at an exact time would double algal fuel yield. These findings may or may not help in the large scale activities of algae cultivation but the important aspect of making algae biofuels a success is in developing an intelligent business model, analysing some key issues and trying them out in large scale systems in a few different locations for some time and then take it to the next stage. Sadly though, we get lab scale results such as this one claiming to be breakthroughs once every week but we have very few large scale plants operating around the world.

But again, there are interesting things happening around the world with the commercialisation process being catalysed by the U.S navy?s laudable go-green policy and heavyweight companies and research consortia looking to get to the next stage of the algae fuel scene.

As ever, the Oilgae team observes intently!
Thu November 11 2010 11:14:31 PM by MiaFranceska Montana state university  |  double algae fuel content  |  algae biofuel breakthrough 1906 views

Comments - 10

  • Arden wrote:
    Fri November 12 2010 04:44:30 AM

    Any progress is good progrss Mia.

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  • Shyam wrote:
    Fri November 12 2010 05:29:30 AM

    Agreed but calling the results of a masters thesis as a major breakthrough in the algae fuels field is lying through the teeth!

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  • Fri November 12 2010 10:10:16 AM

    Dr. Cooksey is now in demand for his expertise, but he is still miffed about the lost years. It's great, but it?s frustrating, he said.

    'Why the hell didn't we do this 20 years ago, because we would be where we'd like to be by now.

    'It doubles the rate of production of oil,' Dr. Cooksey said. According to Gardner, not only does the process double the amount of oil that can be extracted from the algae, it grows the algae in half the previous time, producing four times as much fuel. 'We fought this for a long time in trial and error, and finally stumbled across the right answer. That was a really good day.'

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  • Manohar wrote:
    Tue November 16 2010 11:38:19 PM


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  • Tue November 16 2010 11:50:09 PM

    The search for a chemical trigger to boost oil production in algae was a long, sometimes torturous, journey, according to the three MSU scientists. Not only did they have to find a chemical that would work, but they had to figure out the best time to add it to the algae.


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  • Tue November 16 2010 11:52:46 PM

    Cooksey explains the baking soda may work because it gives algae extra carbon dioxide necessary for its metabolism at a key point in its life cycle.


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  • Richard wrote:
    Fri November 19 2010 09:26:54 PM

    The three types of algae that were used in the research are not closely related strains. 

     This is good news for the industry because it means that the results should apply to many other different types of algae. 

     The more varieties that can be used to make biofuel the more areas that can produce biofuel. 

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  • Shankar wrote:
    Fri November 19 2010 09:31:45 PM

    Dr. K. Sathasivan at the University of Texas, Austin, is experimenting with baking soda as a feed stock for algae in the production of jet fuel.


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  • Richard wrote:
    Fri November 19 2010 09:38:35 PM

    An article about the same news giving details of all the profs involved in the research at MSU


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  • Richard wrote:
    Fri November 26 2010 12:06:00 AM

    The Algal Biofuels Group is part of MSU's MSU's Energy Research Institute, an umbrella for roughly 35 faculty working in a variety of disciplines. About $15 million in sponsored energy research is conducted at MSU annually.

    MSU researchers Keith Cooksey, Brent Peyton and Rob Gardner (from left) discovered that baking soda, added at a specific time in the growth cycle of algae, dramatically increases the production of oil. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham).

    Read an article from physorg and a video to boot.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-soda-boosts-oil-production-algae.html /

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