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UNL Hopes to Tap Into Algae as Energy Source

February 6th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Fuel-Research

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Algae may be the next frontier for biofuels, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is poised to be among the nation’s leaders in this research.

Part of the greenhouse complex at UNL’s Beadle Center will be revamped into an algal biofuels research facility this year. Scientists will begin growing algae in small containers, then move on to five-foot long bags and, finally, a “raceway” – a small, oblong pool – as they seek answers to two key questions:

– What algae cultivars are best suited for biofuel development? There are at least 200,000 different algae, and ultimately genetic modification may play a role in engineering algae to produce the most lipids – specifically, triglycerides – possible for conversion to fuel.

– How can the triglycerides be most cost-effectively extracted from the algae to produce biofuel?

UNL already has received $1.9 million in federal funding for the research. It’s also in line for tens of millions more in funding for several related research angles, including one that would couple this new research with UNL’s already robust corn-ethanol byproducts research.

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