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Parkavi's Blog

Diatom contamination in algal cultures

I am working on the diatom contamination in marine algae cultivation. I want to measure the rate at which the nutrients in f2 medium (nitrate & phosphate predominantly) are taken up the algae and the contaminating diatoms for comparitive study. Please suggest a suitable method.
Mon September 06 2010 02:25:07 AM by Parkavi 2

Nanobiotechnology-manipulated light particles to accelerate algae growth

Sureshkumar and Wani have discovered a method to make ,
which can be used in the production of biofuels, grow faster by
manipulating through the use of . By creating accelerated
photosynthesis, algae will grow faster with minimal change in the
ecological resources required. This method is highlighted in the August
2010 issue of Nature Magazine.

The SU team has developed a new bioreactor that can enhance algae
growth. They accomplished this by utilizing nanoparticles that
selectively scatter blue light, promoting algae metabolism. When the
optimal combination of light and confined nanoparticle suspension
configuration was used, the team was able to achieve growth enhancement
of an algae sample of greater than 30 percent as compared to a control.

Wed August 25 2010 10:31:11 AM by Parkavi 45

Study Finds Role of Nutrients in Algal Bloom

The Desert Research Institute
and Tahoe Environmental Research Center are leading the research that
will examine a variety of sources of nutrients that cause the growth,
from air pollution and erosion spurred by development to over-fertilized

Algae growth has remained
fairly consistent over the past decade but ebbs and flows on an annual
basis, said Scott Hackley, a researcher who has overseen similar studies
for the University of California, Davis' Tahoe Environmental Research
Center in Incline Village.

"It's something we're monitoring.
We are trying to understand where it is growing the heaviest and why,"
he told the Reno Gazette-Journal last week. "To the extent you can, you
want to control the nutrients." 

Wed August 25 2010 10:23:59 AM by Parkavi 3

Solazyme gets $52 Million for Algae-Based Fuel

Solazyme announced Tuesday that it has landed $52 million in a fourth round of venture capital to commercialize its algae-based fuel.

According to newyork times, Solazyme has raised about $125 million from investors including Braemar Energy Ventures, Bluecrest Capital Finance, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, The Roda Group, and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

The fourth round of funding was backed by Morgan Stanley, Chevron Technology Ventures & VentureBeat.
Wed August 11 2010 05:17:51 AM by Parkavi 1

What is Exxon doing right now?

What is Exxon mobile doing in algae domain right now? I'm sure algae investors, researchers and entrepreneurs would definitely want the answer for this question.

Following a $600 million investment in algae fuels Exxon takes the next step in algae biofuel effort. ExxonMobil unveiled yesterday the opening of a greenhouse in which to take to the next level the research and testing of algae as the basis for a fuel.

J Craig Venter, founder and chief executive of Synthetic Genomics, told the news conference:

"The greenhouse is the next important step in our alliance as we comprehensively explore algae as a source of renewable biofuels. The team has already made great strides in evaluating various strains and growth conditions for algae and we are eager to continue and expand this important research as we plan for the next stages of scale-up"

Thanks to Financial Times for the news!
Fri July 16 2010 04:56:32 AM by Parkavi 6

Top Companies and Their Latest in Energy from Algae

Here is a blog post about the latest press releases made by the algae fuel companies listed in Biofuel Digest's 30 transformative technologies in 2010


Solazyme is recently listed in the 30 most transformative technologies in 2010 by biofuel Digest.
The latest press release from the company was on May 12 2010. The company hired Adriano Galvez who has 25 Years of Experience in Large Scale Biofuels Production, Chemical and Biomass Processing as senior vice president of manufacturing and process development.
Another interesting advancement made by solazyme in Mar 2010 is that the company has signed a research and development agreement with Unilever to develop oil derived from algae for use in soaps and other personal care products.

Important Links

Website: http://www.solazyme.com

Technology: http://www.solazyme.com/content/technology

Patents filed: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=solazyme&OS=solazyme&RS=solazyme
Patents applied: http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=0&f=S&l=50&TERM1=solazyme&FIELD1=&co1=AND&TERM2=&FIELD2=&d=PG01


On Feb 2010, The company has reached an agreement with the Lee County Board of Commissioners to support the opening of the new 43,000 square foot facility in Lee County. Algenol continues the development and expansion of its unique Direct to Ethanol process to produce low-cost ethanol and green chemicals from algae using the $10 million grant.

Important Links:

Website: http://www.algenolbiofuels.com/

Technology: http://www.algenolbiofuels.com/overview.htm

Corporate presentation: http://www.algenolbiofuels.com/Algenol_web_presentation_final.pdf


The company recently (May 2010) filed for patent protection of the new layered solar growth design, its ninth patent application, entitled ?Multi-Plane Growth Apparatus and Method. The MultiReactor takes advantage of the fact that much more sun falls on the ground than vegetation can normally absorb. The solution is to capture it all in a stack of growth layers. The new design uses an array of lenses to direct solar radiation from the top through a system of algae channels. Algae culture is pumped continuously to the top of the array and then trickles down through the layers, ensuring equal exposure. Tapping units at the end of the stack capture valuable gases.

On May 2010, The company announced that industry leader MBD Energy Limited has become the company?s first algae-producing customer. The Companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a multi-phase commercialization program under which OriginOil will supply MBD Energy, an Australia-based company, with its Quantum Fracturing? and Single-Step Extraction? systems.

Important Links:

Website: http://www.originoil.com/

Financial details: http://www.originoil.com/investors/investors.html


On April 2010, Petroalgae signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Asesorias e Inversiones Quilicura (AIQ), a major shareholder in Subus Chile S.A., that is expected to enable the development in Chile of a micro-crop technology system for the large-scale production of green gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Website: http://www.petroalgae.com

Technology: http://www.petroalgae.com/technology.php


On April 2010, Top executives from three key industries have been appointed to Sapphire Energy?s board of directors, signaling their support for the intersection between energy, agriculture, and biotechnology in the game-changing creation of fuel from algae. Joining May 20 are former Monsanto chief Robert Shapiro, former BP executive David Allen, and venture capitalist and bio-tech executive David E. Shaw.

According to the press release, Sapphire will break ground on its Integrated Algal Bio-Refinery in Southern New Mexico which will demonstrate the complete process of growing, extracting, and refining algae into a drop-in replacement, liquid transportation fuel.
Important Links

Website: http://www.sapphireenergy.com

Technology: http://www.sapphireenergy.com/green-crude/how-does-it-work/
Fri June 25 2010 12:29:54 PM by Parkavi 18

Status of Algae Biofuel Industry at Philippines

Why Phillipines?

Philippines is one country which does a lot of work in biotech industry, specifically in agricultural biotechnology. The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the commercial cultivation of a genetically-modified Bt corn variety in December 2002. The country has so far approved 41 varieties of genetically-modified plants for use in the country. In the Philippines, There are several research institutions which work on developing transgenic crops for food. Some notable institutes are:

? The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
? The National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), Los Banos
? The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)
? The Institute of Plant Breeding, University of The Philippines Los Banos

Philippines also have an interesting biodiesel production history. Unlike other countries which rely on jatropha or animal fat for biodiesel, Philippines uses coconut oil for biodiesel production. The Philippines is the first nation to produce and use coconut-derived biodiesel, also known as coco-biodiesel. On May 2006, Asia's biggest coco-biodiesel plant with a capacity of 60 million liters was opened by Chemrez Inc.

Since May, 2007, the country has been implementing a mandatory one-percent blend (B1) of coconut biodiesel with all petroleum diesel sold within its borders.
Apart from this, under the biofuels act of 2006 the country has implied a mandate of 1% biodiesel in diesel and 5% ethanol in gasoline by 2009.

Are there any work done on algae biodiesel so far?

Yes, but not much. The Philippine National Oil Company ? Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC) was formerly known as the PNOC Petrochemical Development Corporation until its Articles of Incorporation was amended on July 13, 2006. Its mandate is to explore, develop and accelerate the utilization and commercialization of alternative fuels in the country.

According to news releases, The organization has taken some initiatives and had contacted an US-based firm engaged in algae technology on how to derive and market bio diesel from algae.

PNOC president and CEO Peter Anthony A. Abaya has noted the development and eventual commercialization of bio fuels from algae is part of PNOC-AFC's medium-term plan. According to him, the US-based firm has a technology that mass produces algae from which the primary vegetable oil product is extracted. The oil is then refined into a cost-effective, non-polluting diesel bio fuel.

The current section on algae fuels project in PNOC website (http://www.pnoc-afc.com.ph/biodiesel/algae.html) does not have any information on their project plans. The section is under construction. Hopefully, PNOC will update its website soon and we might have a better understanding then.

So, As of now I don't see any major efforts taken for algae biofuels in this particular country. If you know of any such efforts in philippines, please don't forget to post it here..
Wed June 23 2010 12:06:15 PM by Parkavi 13

Can Martek (A Leading Algae Oil Producer) Win the Algae Fuel Race?

I set out to research about companies which are already into algae for various purposes like pharma products and neutraceuticals and their efforts on algae fuels. Interestingly, I noticed the efforts of Martek Biosciences, producer of nutritional products that promote health and wellness. The company produces Docosahexaenoic acid and Arachidonic acid.

? DHA -Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is a major fatty acid in sperm and brain phospholipids, particularly in the retina. Dietary DHA may reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing the level of blood triglycerides in humans. Low levels of DHA have been associated with Alzheimer's disease.

? ARA - Arachidonic acid is one of the most abundant fatty acids in the brain, and is present in similar quantities to DHA. The two account for approximately 20% of its fatty acid content. Arachidonic acid is necessary for the repair and growth of skeletal muscle tissue.

The company currently supplies DHA and ARA to infant formula manufacturers such as Mead Johnson , Nestle and Abbott Labs. The DHA and ARA are marketed in the name of Life?s DHA and Life?s ARA. Life?s DHA being produced from microalgae, is a vegetarian source of DHA which is otherwise derived from fish oil.

According to recent news articles, Martek is expanding its business into China.

? In April, the company announced a five-year agreement with COFCO to put DHA into the cooking oils it sells in China.

? Last month the company announced a five-year agreement with Mengniu Dairy, the largest dairy producer in China to fortify its ultra-high temperature (UHT) shelf-stable milk products with DHA.

Last week the company announced a multi-year agreement with another Chinese dairy to fortify infant formula and ?growing-up milk? products.

On Aug 2009, Maktek signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to work on the production of microbial oils for biofuels applications with BP. The partnership combines a broad technology platform and operational capabilities to advance the development of a step-change technology for the conversion of sugars into biodiesel.

Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, Martek and BP will work together to establish proof of concept for large-scale, cost effective microbial biodiesel production through fermentation. BP will be contributing up to $10 million to this initial phase of the collaboration which leverages Martek?s significant expertise in microbial oil production and BP?s production and commercialization experience in biofuels as the platform for the joint development effort.

Recently, in an interview, Chief Executive Officer Steve Dubin when asked about the status on BP deal, he told the press that, though Martek being a leading producer of oil from algae for neutraceuticals, making it cost competitive with fossil fuel is a real challenge in this industry.

?The status is there's a five-year project to develop some alternative fuels instead of using fossil fuel to get fuels from micro-organisms. We started the project about a year ago and we think we're making good progress. We met the first milestones in the deal and we're hoping in four years or so, we'll actually have a product. And the key is to get production, to be cost-competitive, with fossil fuels. You can make oil out of algae today or other micro-organisms. In fact, we're the leading producer of oil from algae in the world today. That's how we make more nutritional products. But you have to get it down to a very inexpensive cost to compete with gasoline, and that's the challenge? says Dubin.

Can this algae oil producer make algae fuels a reality? I don?t have the answer with me now. But I think it is worth following Martek?s efforts in this field. To me it looks like Martek?s efforts to bring down the cost of algae oil production will be different from most other companies as they have prior experience in this field.
Sat June 19 2010 06:15:47 AM by Parkavi 13 Algae Fuel Companies

Fungi is on the race...

In a recently released study by Spanish researchers in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Technology, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid and the Departamento de Gentica y Microbiology, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, there is the proposal to use fungus to manufacture biodiesel. The fungus Mucor Circinelloides is identified as being a good candidate to produce biodiesel lipids as it can easily grow in industrial vats and does not compete with food resources. The recommendation is to genetically modify the fungus to increase its lipid production, with the added benefit that it can also be used as an animal feed.
Fri June 18 2010 01:27:06 PM by Parkavi 9

Oil Giants and Algae Fuels

Top oil companies are keen on supporting the efforts on commercializing algae fuels in a big way. Investments and partnerships established by these oil companies are playing a significant role in accelerating this industry forward.

Some of the most prominent oil giants and their partnerships include:

1. PetroAlgae with Indian Oil
2. Martek with BP
3. Synthetic Genomics with ExxonMobil
4. Solazyme with Chevron
5. HR Bio petroleum with Shell

These partnerships not only explores algae as a source of biofuel but also as a biological carbon capture agent.
Fri May 21 2010 04:15:15 AM by Parkavi 1