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News Release: Microalgae Shows High-Energy Potential as a U.S. Biofuel

February 17, 2010

Dr. Al Darzins, Principal Group Manager at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will discuss how NREL is advancing the development of microalgae as a renewable biofuel on Feb. 19 at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego. 

NREL researchers currently are accelerating efforts to identify and characterize the most promising microalgae strains for biofuels production by putting a greater emphasis on understanding the basic biology of microalgae.

While cellulosic biomass feedstocks are the furthest along the biofuels commercialization track, biofuels derived from microalgae are generating considerable interest. Microalgae are small, plant-like photosynthetic microorganisms that are found in many aquatic habitats including fresh, brackish and marine environments. They are able to convert light energy (sunlight) and carbon dioxide into chemical energy by storing it in the bonds of sugars and lipids.

The AAAS Annual Meeting symposium titled “Algae for Food, Feed, Fiber, Freshwater, and Fuel” is designed to address the potential future impact of algae-based technologies on food, water and energy.  The session takes place Friday, Feb. 19, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Room 9 at the San Diego Convention Center.  A related press briefing will be at 11 a.m., also on Feb. 19.

Other speakers at the AAAS Annual Meeting session “Algae for Food, Feed, Fiber, Freshwater, and Fuel” will be Dan Kammen, University of California; Bob Hebner, University of Texas; Ron Pate, Sandia National Laboratories; Norm Whitton, Sunrise Ridge; and Greg Horowit, Venture Partner Fund.

NREL is DOE’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.


—George Douglas