The University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with AlgEternal Technologies and Georg Fischer Piping Systems, has officially opened one of the largest of-its-kind algae growth demonstration facilities for biofuels in the country.
Algae production has gained significant attention as a feedstock for biofuels and as an alternative to other petroleum-based products because of its potential for high yields, high productivity and scalability.
"The vast commercial potential of algae as a renewable resource has barely been tapped," said Jerry Brand, the Jack S. Josey Professor in Energy Studies and director of the UTEX Culture Collection of Algae in the College of Natural Sciences. "At The University of Texas at Austin, we have a unique combination of intellectual experience and capability, research and development facilities, and a huge library of living algae that together can exploit this potential. The new algae culturing and harvesting facility designed and built by AlgEternal is an excellent synergist to our existing capability that will accelerate commercialization."
It will demonstrate the commercial potential of two of AlgEternal's unique technologies. They will produce algae that will be used by researchers at the university's Center for Electromechanics (CEM) to demonstrate their proprietary technology for extracting oil from algae. The UTEX Culture Collection of Algae will serve as a source for strains of algae.
"The future commercialization of advanced algae biofuels is dependent upon reducing the cost of growth another ten-fold," said Robert Hebner, director of the CEM and research professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering. "Science and commercial progress are symbiotic. We've organized a highly competent team addressing key science and engineering challenges and it is essential that we collaborate with companies like AlgEternal in order to understand biofuel production from the process level to accelerate research in this emerging industry."
"Our company began growing algae at a pilot scale to ensure laboratory research would translate to real world scenarios," said Rob Eissler, CEO of AlgEternal Technologies. "We're using an organic source of energy to reduce overall costs associated with mass production and are utilizing proven farming techniques to manage cultures rather than try to control them."
The facility is located at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus in North Austin.