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Algae Research Advances in ExxonMobil & NASA Glenn Research Center

August 20th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

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“Under a Space Act Agreement, NASA is partnering with Seambiotic USA to model growth processes for microalgae for use as aviation biofuel feedstock,” said Ami Ben-Amotz, chief scientific adviser to Israeli-based Seambiotic Ltd. One of SGI’s achievements has been in engineering algal strains that produce lipids in a continuous process and even secrete hydrocarbons directly. However, such engineered algae may ultimately not be cost effective, Venter said. “It may cost more to build bioreactors that would contain the engineered algae.” As part of the project, SGI will investigate thousands of strains, looking for desirable properties such as tolerance for high sunlight levels and concentrations as well as viral resistance. “There’s a wide range of algae in the environment and we’re finding a lot of exciting varieties,” he added.

ExxonMobil announced its $600 million commitment for a comprehensive algae research program in partnership with California genetic researchers at Synthetic Genomics Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, SGI will work in a systematic approach to find, optimize and/or engineer superior strains of algae; and to define and develop the best systems for large-scale cultivation of algae and conversion into biofuels. SGI plans to build a new research facility at San Diego. ExxonMobil’s research and engineering expertise will be utilized throughout the program, from the development of systems to increase the scale of algae production to the manufacturing of finished fuels.

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